Sri Lankan asylum seekers on Christmas Island sent back home

Sri Lankan asylum seekers on Christmas Island sent back home

Written by Staff Writer

26 Jun, 2017 | 6:57 pm

The return of Sri Lankans from Christmas Island to Colombo overnight on a government charter jet has fueled speculation that Australian Border Force has intercepted a suspected asylum vessel in the past week.

Christmas Island residents yesterday, linked the deportations to an unusual spectacle last Thursday when two of the navy’s rigid inflatable vessels were seen towing a small boat close to the horizon.

The last known intercept of an asylum vessel on its way to Australia was in March.

March monthly update on the Department’s website stated: “During this period, Australian authorities worked with the government of Sri Lanka to return twenty-five people who were detected and intercepted attempting to reach Australia ­illegally by boat, in accordance with Australia’s protection obligations.’’

During the sustained wave of boats between 2008 and 2013, Christmas Island sometimes held more than 6,000 immigration detainees.

It now operates one detention centre with fewer than 1,000 men, but many of them are not asylum-seekers. Instead, the centre has become a place to hold mostly men who are citizens of other countries and have committed crimes while living in Australia. Once their jail term ends, they are transferred to immigration to await deportation.

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