Despite pledges made by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague just a few weeks ago to tackle rape as a weapon of war, the asylum application of a Sri Lankan Tamil woman has been rejected by the UK authorities despite grave concerns regarding her safety in Sri Lanka.
Jonathan Miller of Channel Four has reported that the woman (whose identity has been protected for her safety) who arrived in UK in 2010 has been kept in detention since last November, when she was placed on a fast-track deportation route due to overstaying her visa.
Despite a judge ruling in favour of a judicial review, subsequent appeals have been rejected due to her former involvement with the LTTE, despite serious concerns of being seriously abused by Sri Lankan authorities upon her return.
The woman has claimed that she was taken away from her home in 2009 and brought to a military base where she was tortured and raped repeatedly by six men over a course of three weeks.
Channel Four reports that Expert Evidence provided by a clinical psychologist at Kings College has concluded that her claims of rape are credible and that she is suffering from PTSD. The expert has further noted she poses a suicide risk.
In his report Miller has quoted a Foreign Office Spokesman who was aware of this specific case as stating, “We attach great importance to ensuring that vulnerable survivors of sexual violence are dealt with sensitively throughout their asylum or immigration applications… Where, in an individual case, a person raises material issues about safety on return, the Home Office will review it.”
The Global Summit to end sexual violence in conflict was held in June and was hosted by Hague and Angeline Jolie. During the event, pledges were made to specifically investigate claims that Tamil asylum seekers are being deported despite availability of evidence of being abused by Sri Lankan authorities.
Sri Lankan government boycotted the summit and is yet to endorse the Declaration of Commitment to end sexual violence in conflict that has already been signed by 155 countries including Cambodia, Burma and Nigeria. It has been reported that Sri Lanka has not endorsed it due to fears concerning the possibility of its content being used against Sri Lanka at the international inquiry by the UN Human Rights Office on alleged abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law during the final phases of the conflict.