Since 2003 the Edmund Rice Centre has maintained a program of systematic research to uncover what happens to the asylum seekers rejected by Australia. A key focal area of that work in recent years has been the situation of failed asylum seekers from Sri Lanka.
ERC's published an Interim Research Update on deportations to Sri Lanka in Aug 2014. Many other reports up to that time recounted the mistreatment of failed asylum seekers of Tamil background. However ERC's report provided evidence that upon their return to Sri Lanka, failed asylum seekers of Sinhalese background have also suffered cruel and degrading treatment. Additionally, the mistreatment reported has not been restricted to those who have been involuntarily returned.
ERC Deportations Research May 2015 Update provides evidence from two recent cases of which we are currently able to report publicly. The two cases have in common the following elements which disturbingly, contradict Australian officials' claims that it is safe for Tamil asylum seekers to return:-
Prior to their removal both men had informed Australian officials that they were suspected of having links to the LTTE;
When they were disbelieved or their fears were trivialised, they were returned to face interrogations with torture about the same matters:
- the details of their escape by boat to Australia,
- what they said to Australian officials, and
- which LTTE members they met or knew in Australia;
- Both have credible evidence as to the effects of the torture they have suffered.