Middle East

UAE urged not to deport Sri Lanka journalist Lohini

Rathimohan Lohini
Image caption Rathimohan Lohini was one of the main female news anchors on a rebel-run Tamil news channel

Rights groups are appealing to authorities in the UAE not to deport Sri Lanka journalist Rathimohan Lohini.

The former presenter for a rebel-run Tamil TV channel, who is in Dubai, is facing expulsion despite having UN refugee status.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Ms Lohini, an ethnic Tamil, "would be at grave risk of torture" if sent back.

Sri Lanka's army defeated the separatist Tamil Tigers in May 2009, ending 26 years of brutal civil war.

However, the final phase of that war has been a source of considerable controversy, with both sides accused of war crimes.

'Serious reprisals'

Ms Lohini is one of 19 Tamil refugees facing deportation from the United Arab Emirates. Some have been told they must leave by 11 April, Sri Lankan sources told HRW.

Ms Lohini worked as a presenter for the National Television of Tamil Eelam (NTT) between 2006 and 2008, covering the civil war from areas controlled by the Tamil Tigers.

She was one of the main female news anchors and became widely known to the domestic audience.

In a joint statement, Reporters Without Borders and Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) warned that Ms Lohini "would be exposed to serious reprisals".

"In the light of recent developments and the appalling climate for the Tamil media in Sri Lanka, we are extremely worried about the consequences of a forced return," the statement read.

The agencies called on the UNHRC to prevent her expulsion which they said would "constitute a total violation of international law".

In 2009, the bound and naked body of Ms Lohini's 27-year-old female colleague, known as Isaipriya, was discovered.

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