The Australian Government has returned more than 1000 Sri Lankan irregular maritime arrivals after a group of 39 asylum seekers was returned to Colombo today, the Australian High Commission in Colombo said.
Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O’Connor said the group was advised its members were subject to removal from Australia as none had raised issues that engaged Australia’s international obligations.
The group comprised 38 irregular maritime arrivals who arrived at Geraldton last week. Processing of the remaining passengers continues.
One of the irregular maritime arrivals was from a different vessel.
Without a valid visa, the 39 had no legal right to remain in Australia.
Since August 13 last year, 1004 Sri Lankans who arrived as irregular maritime arrivals have departed Australia – 795 of them involuntarily.
“Returning this group to Sri Lanka sends the powerful message that people who pay smugglers are throwing their money away and risking their lives in the process,” O’Connor said.
“There is no fast track to Australia – irrespective of whether someone arrives at an excised offshore place; if they do not engage Australia’s protection obligations, they will be returned home.
“Where it is determined that claims do not engage Australia’s international obligations, the person will be removed from Australia at the earliest opportunity,” O’Connor said.
“The Gillard Government is committed to deterring people from taking dangerous journeys by boat and stopping those people smugglers who profit from this evil trade.
“We will continue to transfer people to Nauru and Papua New Guinea and asylum seekers arriving by boat will have no advantage in the processing of their claims.
“There is no advantage to arriving in Australia by boat.”
People returned involuntarily do not have access to reintegration assistance. (Colombo Gazette)