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Sunday, May 26, 2013 - 4.40 GMT
Australia returns 16 more asylum seekers to Colombo


Australia has returned another 16 Sri Lankan asylum seekers to Colombo after failing to meet Australia's international obligations.

A group of 16 Sri Lankan irregular maritime arrivals has departed the Christmas Island Thursday night to be flown to Colombo involuntarily, office of the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O'Connor said.

With the latest send-off, since August 13, 2012, Australia has returned 1,177 Sri Lankans home and 966 of them involuntarily.

Minister O'Connor, who visited Sri Lanka earlier this month, said returning the group to Sri Lanka sends a powerful message.

Mr. O'Connor said the Australian government is making it clear that those who pay smugglers are throwing their money away and risking their lives in the process.

"We are committed to breaking the evil people smuggling trade, deterring people from taking dangerous journeys by boat and saving lives at sea," he said.

"When people arrive in Australia without authorization, any claims they make for their reasons to travel to Australia are assessed by the Department of Immigration. If these claims are not covered by the refugee convention, they will be returned to their homeland wherever possible," he said.

"There is no visa on arrival, there is no speedy outcome, and there is no special treatment," he said adding that Australia will continue to transfer people to offshore detention centers in Nauru and Manus Island.

According to the Australian Minister, people returned involuntarily do not have access to reintegration assistance.





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Last modified: May 26, 2013.

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