Lankans sent back totals 700

Almost 600 asylum seekers have now been returned to Sri Lanka against their will, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says.

A group of 50 Sri Lankan men were sent from Darwin to Colombo on Friday, boosting the number “involuntarily” returned home to 593 since August 13, when the government restored offshore processing.

“The group was made up of single adult men – all recent arrivals from different boats,” Mr Bowen said in a statement.

“The Sri Lankans were advised of their status and that they were subject to removal from Australia.

“They raised no issues that engaged Australia’s international obligations.”

Mr Bowen said the government would continue to deport people in the same circumstances.

“People who pay smugglers are risking their lives and throwing their money away,” he said.

“There is no visa on arrival, there is no speedy outcome and there is no special treatment.”

A further 107 Sri Lankans have returned home voluntarily.

The minister said the people returning involuntarily would not get access to reintegration assistance.

“We will continue to transfer people to Nauru, and to Manus Island,” Mr Bowen said.

Twenty-eight asylum seekers arrived on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island on Friday, including family groups.

They are the second group to arrive at the island, where landowners are demanding compensation for the use of traditional land where the Howard-era detention facility is being revived.

Construction of a permanent facility on Nauru has also been delayed as the tiny Pacific nation’s government finalises lease agreements with landowners.

“Until then construction cannot begin,” Nauru’s Foreign Affairs Minister Kieren Keke told the government’s fortnightly bulletin.

“There’s existing leases on the land, but the legal advice is that some adjustments need to be made and landowners have fresh demands.

“So we need to find agreements with those new demands.”

Asylum seekers will be moved out of tents into permanent accommodation as construction progresses, Dr Keke said.

Interviews with asylum seekers by Nauru’s justice department, with assistance from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, started at the weekend. (The Australian)