War crime witness in UK under risk of deportation to danger in Sri Lanka

A key witness to alleged war crimes fears deportation by British authorities that may lead him to face torture and possible death in Sri Lanka. Former Tamil Tiger (LTTE) police officer Kannan Kalimuththu held in a high security detention centre outside Heathrow airport, has been informed by United Kingdom Border Authority (UKBA) of potential deportation on 20 March following his unsuccessful claim in seeking political asylum.

Human rights activists have expressed their shock at the decision by British authorities to forcibly remove a former LTTE member to Sri Lanka, where he was tortured while being held in military detention.

Lawyers for Kannan Kalimuththu, held at the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre say that he was unable to substantiate his asylum claim due to the 'undue haste' of authorities which meant that he was not given a fair opportunity to establish his case. Medical experts who examined him in the UK have confirmed that he is a victim of torture and suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

37 year old Kalimuththu from Puthukudiyirippu of north eastern Sri Lanka has revealed details of torture and sexual attacks while being held in Sri Lankan detention to an organisation in the UK that specialises in cases on torture in detention. Despite strong evidence of torture recorded by Medical Justice, British authorities have decided to deal with his asylum claim in fast track. “This is a serious breach of the Home Office policy on detaining asylum seekers,” said Mansfield Chamber Barrister Shivani Jegarajah.

International Investigation

While being detained in Britain, Kalimuththu's mental health has worsened. He attempted to commit suicide, as he believes he has no strength to face torture again in Sri Lanka, say medical experts. Consultant Psychiatrist Saleh Dumah who assessed him fears that he is likely to end his life if he was forced to go back to Sri Lanka as his fear is genuine.

London based International Centre for Prevention and Prosecution of Genocide (ICCPG) warns that Britain should not be complicit in torture by deporting Tamil victims and witnesses of Genocide. "Deporting Kannan is denying a fair international investigation into Sri Lanka's war crimes," ICCPG UK coordinator Ambi Seevaratnam told JDS.

Kalimuththu who has served under LTTE Police Chief B Nadesan has witnessed many alleged war crimes including some high profile cases. Nadesan, who was later appointed as the head of the political wing, was executed and his mutilated body was found following his surrender to the Sri Lankan military in the last days of the war.

Crucial military attack

One particular war crime that Kalimuththu has detailed in his asylum claim describes Sri Lanka military bombing a young offenders facility in north eastern Sri Lanka run by the LTTE Judiciary wing killing over ninety unarmed inmates, in March 2009. The institute in Ananthapuram has been registered under the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Kalimuththu, has taken care of the emergency evacuation of those who escaped death. He had been the officer in charge of the institution from 2003 to 2006.

The ICRC that regularly visited those held in the institution had provided the co-ordinates of its location to the government, as required by international law in order to protect it from military attacks. The military assault on Ananthapuram was crucial for Sri Lanka in gaining control over Tamil territory.

When Sri Lanka military forces over ran the Tamil dominated north in May 2009, Kalimuththu surrendered to the Army. He has been detained in the military-run Joseph Camp in Vavuniya until he managed to escape and flee Sri Lanka to seek asylum in the UK in September 2014. Medical Justice has recorded Kalimuththu being subjected to torture in military detention including electrocution, beating with pipes filled with sand and sexual assault with glass bottles.

At least 10 Tamils returning to Sri Lanka have been arrested at the Colombo Air Port after the new government led by Maithripala Sirisena was elected into office on 8 January 2015.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.