The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today announced that a group of 16 Sri Lankan men – part of the post-13 August caseload affected by new regional processing arrangements – are returning home voluntarily, the Australian High Commission in Colombo said today.
Two other Sri Lankan men in immigration detention who arrived before 13 August are also being returned.
The men were removed on a charter flight from Christmas Island to Colombo today that departed at 8.15am local time.
“These individuals chose not to pursue asylum claims and face transfer to a regional processing centre in Nauru or Papua New Guinea and instead chose to return home voluntarily,” Bowen said.
“We have completed more transfers of boat arrivals to Nauru this week and they will continue to occur in the coming days and weeks.
“Both the Nauru transfers and this group of adult Sri Lankan men choosing to return home provide further evidence that the people smugglers are selling lies and misleading asylum seekers about the situation they will face if they reach Australia by boat.
“People who pay smugglers to risk their lives on a dangerous sea journey are throwing their money away, as demonstrated by the speedy return of this group.
“Transfers off Christmas Island will continue. People arriving by boat will be sent to Nauru and Papua New Guinea. This Government is determined to break the people smuggling trade and stop people getting on those dangerous boats,” Mr Bowen said.
People in immigration detention can request their removal from Australia at any point in time. Those who choose to depart voluntarily can be provided with individual reintegration support to assist with their sustainable return, through the International Organization for Migration.
According to the Australian High Commission in Colombo, Bowen said the Australian Government was committed to implementing the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers’ key principle related to a strategic, comprehensive and integrated policy approach that provides no advantage to people choosing to travel to Australia by boat.