Australia to raise with Sri Lanka asylum seeker concerns

Australia's Immigration Minister says asylum seekers who have returned to Sri Lanka from Australia are safe, because they were found to be not genuine refugees. [AFP]
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Australia's Immigration Minister says asylum seekers who have returned to Sri Lanka from Australia are safe, because they were found to be not genuine refugees. [AFP]

Last Updated: Thu, 3 May 2012 11:30:00 +1000

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has been under pressure from rights groups to ask Sri Lanka about its treatment of political activists and asylum-seekers.

More than 30 activists have disappeared since October, and some asylum-seekers deported from Australia and Britain say they were detained and tortured by police.

Mr Bowen says he'll raise these issues in private discussions, when he arrives in Colombo for a scheduled visit.

But he says those returned from Australia are safe, because they have been found NOT to be genuine refugees.

"There is a very exhaustive process which goes into determining who can be returned and who can't be," he said.

"I do make the point, and I think this is often lost in the debate, people saying that we shouldn't be returning refugees to Sri Lanka or anywhere else.

"Well, we don't. We don't.

"We return people who have not been able to establish against what is a very fair system that they are in danger if they return to countries.

"And that applies to Sri Lanka, to Iraq, to Afghanistan across the board."

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