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Sri Lankans among 100 war crimes suspects identified in UK

2013 Aug 01

The UK Home Office last year identified nearly 100 suspected war criminals including Sri Lankans who had made UK immigration applications, figures released to the BBC suggest. The majority of cases involved people already likely to have been living in Britain for a number of years.


Suspects originated from countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Rwanda, Serbia and Sri Lanka.


The Home Office says it is determined the UK doesn’t become a “refuge for war criminals”.


Human rights groups are calling for more criminal prosecutions in Britain as the courts commonly block deportation on human rights grounds if suspects face torture or death in their home country.


The figures emerged from a Freedom of Information request made by the BBC.


They show that, in the 15 months from January 2012, the Home Office researched nearly 800 cases where individuals were suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity.


It made “adverse recommendations” against 99 people who had applied for British citizenship, asylum or leave to remain in the UK.


A further 16 war crimes suspects had applied to enter the UK.


It follows earlier figures suggesting more than 700 suspected war criminals were identified by UK immigration officials between 2005 and 2012.


Michael McCann MP, chairman of a cross-party parliamentary group to prevent genocide, says the figures reveal the need for greater transparency from the government in cases where war crimes suspects are in the UK.


“The organisation in the Home Office that used to deal with this — the UKBA (UK Border Agency) — was a basket case. It had failed on so many different levels I’ve lost count,” he said.


“I have deep concerns that the Home Office isn’t being as forthright as it could be and I think we should be drilling down into these cases in order to give the public of our country that security.”


Of the 99 suspects, three were deported last year, 20 were refused asylum and 46 had their citizenship bids turned down but are likely to have remained in the UK. The fate of the remaining suspects is unknown.


The Metropolitan Police says 56 people in the UK are currently subject to war crimes inquiries, although only nine cases were passed on to them by the Home Office.


A Home Office spokesman said: “Anyone accused of these crimes should be put on trial in their home country and we will always seek to return them to face justice,” BBC reports.

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