Australia sends back 31 Lankans

Australia has sent back another 31 Sri Lankan irregular maritime arrivals after they failed to meet Australia’s international obligations, the Australian High Commission said today.

The group departed Christmas Island yesterday to be flown back to Colombol. Their return takes the number of Sri Lankans sent home to 1161 – 950 of them involuntarily – since August last year.

Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O’Connor said returning the group to Sri Lankans sends a powerful message.

“The Gillard Government is making it crystal clear that those who pay smugglers are throwing their money away and risking their lives in the process,” O’Connor said.

“We are committed to breaking the evil people smuggling trade, deterring people from taking dangerous journeys by boat and saving lives at sea. When people arrive in Australia without authorisation, any claims they make for their reasons to travel to Australia are assessed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. If these claims are not covered by the Refugee Convention, they will be returned to their homeland wherever possible. There is no visa on arrival, there is no speedy outcome, and there is no special treatment. “We will continue to transfer people to Nauru and Manus Island,” he said.

People returned involuntarily do not have access to reintegration assistance. (Colombo Gazette)