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Monday, September 24, 2012 - 5.08 GMT
Nauru detainees’ option to return raises questions about past claims – Australian Deputy Opp. Leader


A decision by a group of Sri Lankan men to return home rather than enter a detention centre in Nauru raises questions about past claims for asylum from the war-torn nation, Australia’s Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop says.

Eighteen Sri Lankan men left Christmas Island for Colombo on Saturday after asking to return home instead of being sent to the Pacific island for the processing of their asylum seeker claims, AAP reported.

They were the first group to opt for a return journey since the federal government reopened the Nauru centre earlier this month.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said it marked an important step in deterring people-smuggling.

But Ms Bishop said it called into question the government’s processing of asylum applications from Sri Lanka since the civil war there ended three years ago.

“It does call into question the processing of applications over the last three years,” Ms Bishop told ABC TV on Sunday.

“They would have been provided with a safe haven in Nauru... and they chose to return to Sri Lanka.”

Ms Bishop said Temporary Protection Visa (TPV)s, which extend protection to a person until it’s safe for them to return home, would have been “ideal” for assessing asylum claims from Sri Lanka.






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Last modified: September 24, 2012.

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