Sri Lankan government must stop dismissing torture evidence following Supreme Court ruling

The Supreme Court's landmark ruling today said that the lower courts were wrong to override conclusions of a medical expert when considering forensic evidence of torture in an asylum case.

Freedom from Torture Chief Executive Sonya Sceats, said:

“This judgment by the highest court in Britain is a wake-up call for President Sirisena and others who continue to deny Sri Lanka’s responsibility for war crimes including torture. The Supreme Court has accepted that there was extensive torture by state forces in Sri Lanka in 2009 and noted that evidence of fabricated torture injuries by asylum seekers was “almost non-existent”.

“We call on the Sri Lankan government to stop dismissing our voluminous medical evidence of torture, past and present, in the country. And it must demonstrate it is serious about its “zero tolerance” policy by strengthening prevention mechanisms and delivering on its promise of an internationalised justice process for survivors.”

Notes to editors:

  • For media queries, please contact Hannah Ward on 0207 697 7837 or email hward@freedomfromtorture.org.
  • To find out more, read Freedom from Torture's press release: Supreme court reasserts the role of medical experts in asylum claims by torture survivors.
  • For the past seven years, Sri Lanka has been the top country of origin for those referred to the charity for clinical services.
  • In its 2016 report “Proving Torture”, Freedom from Torture noted that arguments of “self infliction by proxy” are more frequently made in cases involving Sri Lankan nationals.
  • A Home Office Country of Origin Information Service report on Sri Lanka from May 2011 cited a letter from the British High Commission in Colombo which referred to an allegation of self-infliction of injuries attributed to torture. The letter and the allegation were subsequently cited in Home Office and Tribunal decisions, mainly in Sri Lankan asylum claims, including a number of those referred to Freedom from Torture’s Medico-Legal Report Service.
  • In 2012 the letter was withdrawn from a revised Home Office country of origin information report following a complaint by Freedom from Torture that the allegation was based on an unsubstantiated and anonymous statement by a member of the Sri Lankan security forces.
  • Last month Freedom from Torture released a new report on torture “Too little change: ongoing torture in security operations in Sri Lanka".
  • This builds on earlier reports about torture in Sri Lanka including Tainted Peace: Torture in Sri Lanka since May 2009.