More Lankans returned from Australia

A further 28 Sri Lankan irregular maritime arrivals have been returned to Colombo after failing to meet Australia’s international obligations, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O’Connor said today.

The group departed Christmas Island yesterday and arrived in Sri Lanka today.

Their return takes the number of Sri Lankans sent home to 1206 – 994 of them involuntarily – since August last year.

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 Australia’s international obligations, 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.”

The Navy yesterday intercepted a boat with 52 people heading to Australia, the latest in a series of busts on boat people.

Among those arrested were 45 minority Tamils and 7 Sinhalese. There were 20 children on the boat, the Sri Lankan navy said. (Colombo Gazette)