FREEDOM FROM TORTURE STATEMENT ON THE SELECT COMMITTEE REPORT

FREEDOM FROM TORTURE STATEMENT ON THE SELECT COMMITTEE REPORT ON THE FCO’S FUNDING AND ADMINISTRATION OF ITS HUMAN RIGHTS WORK OVERSEAS

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee report will be published on Tuesday 5 April at  00.01hrs BST.

Speaking ahead of publication, Sonya Sceats, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Freedom from Torture, said:

“We are increasingly concerned that the UK government puts flying the flag for business over and above human rights. Nowhere is this mercenary approach more likely to directly cause loss of life or limb than in Sri Lanka.

“At a parliamentary reception just two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Hugo Swire reluctantly acknowledged our evidence of recent torture before inexplicably urging British Tamils to get on planes back to Sri Lanka to boost trade for the UK.

“This promotion of ‘UK plc’ at the expense of human rights in Sri Lanka is especially horrifying because our doctors have examined more than 60 Tamils with real or perceived LTTE links who were tortured after returning from the UK since the Sri Lankan civil war. Many were specifically interrogated about the activities of the British Tamil community which is still distrusted in Colombo.

“No matter how inconvenient it is, the UK government should take our clinical evidence of torture more seriously when shaping its policies towards states which are notorious for abusing human rights.”

Notes:

  • Freedom from Torture spokespersons are available for broadcast interviews and further comment. Please contact kstearman@freedomfromtorture.org
  • Since 1985 Freedom from Torture has been the only UK human rights charity dedicated solely to the treatment and support of torture survivors seeking refuge in the UK. It does this primarily through offering psychological therapies and the forensic documentation of torture by expert doctors. More information is available atwww.freedomfromtorture.org
  • In 2015 Sri Lanka was once again the top country of origin for those referred to our services, with 326 Sri Lankans referred. Last year we published our country report Tainted peace: Torture in Sri Lanka since 2009, and earlier this year we published evidence of torture perpetrated since President Sirisena came to power in January 2015
  • The Foreign Affairs Committee will publish its Report The FCO’s administration and funding of its human rights work overseas on Tuesday 5 April at 00.01 BST. This will be the Committee’s Fourth Report of Session 2015-16 (HC 860).www.parliament.uk/facom
  • Freedom from Torture has a recording of Hugo Swire’s speech of 23 March 2016, available on request.