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Sri Lanka navy urges Australia to deport boatpeople

Canberra ought to turn Sri Lankan asylum-seekers straight back home.

Written by Agencies | Sydney |
July 28, 2012 5:26:25 pm

Sri Lankan navy officials have urged Australia to deport the growing number of boat people arriving from their country,saying it was the “best way” to deter people smugglers,according to report.

Sri Lanka’s naval operations director Commodore N. Attygalle and its head of naval intelligence Nishantha

Ulugetenne told that,Canberra ought to turn Sri Lankan asylum-seekers straight back home.

“When you start deporting then this problem will ease for us,” Commodore Ulugetenne told the newspaper.

“More than 1,500 Sri Lankans have landed in Australia in the last six months. What are you going to do with them,screen them one by one?”

Authorities in Colombo have seen a spike in people smuggling traffic from its shores in recent months even

though they have disrupted several attempts involving hundreds of asylum-seekers.

The surge has fuelled a political deadlock over the issue in Australia,with the government wishing to transfer

boat people to Malaysia as a deterrent measure but the

conservative opposition blocking the plan.

Attygalle said towing boats out of Australian waters,as proposed by the opposition,would not work because

smugglers would sabotage the boat in order to force a rescue and agreed that “the best way is deportation”.

Sri Lankans account for 22 per cent of the 5,815

people currently in Australian asylum-seeker detention,second only to Afghanistan in terms of numbers. Only 83 per cent of refugee applicants are successful.

The rate was 100 per cent during the height of hostilities between Sri Lankan forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009 which ended a decades-long civil war and left up to 100,000 dead.

A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen

said Canberra “routinely” returned asylum-seekers to Sri Lanka not found to be genuine,both voluntarily and involuntarily,and saw it as a “crucial” element of the refugee system.

“The government will continue to pursue removals of

failed asylum seekers who have exhausted their appeal rights

and are found not to be owed protection,” she told AFP.

“People who are owed Australia’s protection under international obligations will be granted protection. People

found not to be owed protection will be removed from

Australia.”

There has been a constant stream of refugee boats

intercepted off Australia as the policy impasse deepens,with

a record 6,557 asylum-seeker arrivals in the first seven

months of 2012,despite a number of fatal sinkings.

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