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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 5.50 GMT

Returning Sri Lankan asylum seekers sends a powerful message - Australian minister


Australia's policy of returning the Sri Lankan asylum seekers arriving in boats back to the country has proven effective in deterring the others seeking to come to Australia, the Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O'Connor said.

In an interview to ABC News 24, the Australian Minister said the Gillard government introduced the enhanced screening for Sri Lankans and Australia has sent 1,100 Sri Lankans that were not engaging Australia's obligations pursuant to the refugee convention.

He said the measure has reduced the number of new arrivals effectively.

"That has actually seen a massive decline, a 90 per cent decline in direct arrivals from Sri Lanka in - and that, of course, there is no more powerful message than that," O'Connor said.

He said Australia has a set of initiatives, if implemented in combination, to deter people from endangering their lives at sea attempting to come to Australia.

Among them was a measure to return the asylum seekers to a transit country which according to the Minister would send a "very powerful message", the same message that is being sent by screening and returning over 1,100 Sri Lankans in the last several months.

Since August 13, 2012, Australia has returned 1,177Sri Lankans home and 966 of them involuntarily.






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Last modified: May 29, 2013.

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