The Australian federal government should arrange with Sri Lanka to transfer boat people from the island nation who are intercepted in Australian waters back to the southern Asian nation, the Australian coalition says.
Australian authorities intercepted a boat carrying 81 suspected asylum seekers north-northwest of Cocos (Keeling) Islands on Saturday.
The opposition said the boat appeared to have come from Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka was making significant efforts to prevent asylum boats from leaving its waters, opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop and immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said.
“However, those who make it through should be the subject of a new arrangement for immediate transfer back to Sri Lanka without setting foot on Australian soil,” they said in a joint statement on Sunday.
They said most Sri Lankans’ claims for asylum were rejected, with the bulk proven to be economic migrants, while many received negative security assessments from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).
The civil war between the majority Sinhalese and Tamil minority ended in 2009 after more than 25 years. (Sydney Morning Herald)