Australia accused of ‘secrecy’ over Sri Lankan asylum-seekers
December 1, 2014 12:02 pm
The Australian government was Saturday accused of secrecy over an operation with Sri Lankan authorities in which a boat carrying asylum-seekers was intercepted and all but one of its passengers sent back.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Saturday that a people-smuggling boat carrying 38 Sri Lankans had been stopped north west of the Cocos Islands two weeks ago as it made its way to Australia.
“There is no greater deterrent to protecting our borders and stopping boats coming to Australia than by stopping the boats physically and returning those vessels from whence they came,” Morrison said.
“That is the policy that has been the stand out performer of the suite of measures that we have introduced since we came to government which has led to just one venture making it to Australia this year.”
Since coming to power over a year ago, the conservative government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott has turned back several boats in an attempt to stop people-smugglers from bringing asylum-seekers on the perilous journey.
In the latest incident, 37 Sri Lankans were transferred at sea to Sri Lankan authorities. One man who was recommended to be assessed for refugee status remains in Australian government care and will be transferred to an immigration detention center on Papua New Guinea or Nauru, UCA News reported.