Updates, commentary, training and advice on immigration and asylum law

New risk factor in Sri Lankan cases


Older content is locked

A great deal of time and effort goes into producing the information on Free Movement, become a member of Free Movement to get unlimited access to all articles, and much, much more


By becoming a member of Free Movement, you not only support the hard-work that goes into maintaining the website, but get access to premium features;

  • Single login for personal use
  • FREE downloads of Free Movement ebooks
  • Access to all Free Movement blog content
  • Access to all our online training materials
  • Access to our busy forums
  • Downloadable CPD certificates

The Swiss Federal Administrative Court has addressed risk to Sri Lankan Tamils facing enforced removal in a new judgment recently reported by UNHCR. The judgment is in French but the UNHCR summary in English states as follows:

[P]olitical opponents, critical journalists, human rights activists, critical NGO representatives, as well as victims of or witnesses to serious human rights violations and persons who are presumed to have close contacts to the LTTE represented groups are still at risk of persecution in Sri Lanka. In general, returns to Sri Lanka including the East and North are considered reasonable, with the exception of Vanni region where no returns should take place. For persons who left the northern province some time ago, the existence of social network and chances for securing minimal living conditions should be considered.

What is significant is the addition of one new risk elements that do not feature in the existing UK authorities. This category is victims of or witnesses to war crimes. Returns to Vanni are considered unreasonable but it will be said in the UK that return will be to Colombo. The applicability of internal relocation will therefore be in issue.

In the lead up to the defeat of the LTTE the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office estimated that 300,000 Tamil civilians were interned. There are many reports of civilian casualties. The UN Panel of Experts found that allegations of systematic war crimes and crimes against humanity were credible. Therefore all those who were present in former LTTE territories, Killinochchi and especially Mullaithivu, who suffered indiscriminate shelling, lost family members as a result, for example, ought to succeed as a result of this judgment.

Given the international nature of refugee law and increasing use of cross-jurisdictional authorities this judgment ought to be highly persuasive.

Interested in refugee law? You might like Colin's book, imaginatively called "Refugee Law" and published by Bristol University Press.

Communicating important legal concepts in an approachable way, this is an essential guide for students, lawyers and non-specialists alike.

Relevant articles chosen for you


One Response

  1. “Given the harmonisation of EU asylum procedures this judgment ought to be highly persuasive.”

    I’d be curious as to how? Switzerland is not a common law jurisdiction, not a Commonwealth country, and does not have common law style judicial precedent (stare decisis) itself – and is not a member of the EU.

    Not that I wouldn’t want the case to be of benefit to anyone threatened with return, just not sure how a Swiss court decision can be of relevance to the UK given the above.