Effective immediately, the Australian Government has today introduced a suspension of the processing of new asylum applications from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. This suspension has been made as a result of the evolving circumstances in these two countries, the Australian Embassy in Sri Lanka said.
The combined effect of this suspension and the changing circumstances in these two countries will mean that it is likely that, in the future, more asylum claims from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan will be refused.
Sri Lanka is a country in transition after two decades of conflict, with hopes for further improvement and stabilisation in conditions, the Embassy said.
The UNHCR is reviewing country conditions in both these countries and related guidelines for refugee status determination.
Given these developments, the Australian Government has suspended the processing of new asylum claims by Sri Lankan nationals for a period of three months and the processing of new asylum claims by Afghan nationals for a period of six months.
These suspensions will be reviewed at the end of their respective periods. Asylum seekers currently on Christmas Island will continue to have their claims processed and will not be subject to the suspension.
The Australian Government will take into consideration the outcomes of the UNHCR’s review of country situations in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan in the finalisation of information provided to decision-makers responsible for refugee status determinations.
The Australian Government believes that asylum seekers should only be granted the right to live in Australia if they are genuinely in need of protection. These measures will ensure that Australia’s refugee processing system continues to recognise those genuinely in need of our protection.
Irregular maritime arrivals claiming asylum will continue to be subject to mandatory detention, including those subject to the suspension.
The Government is also strengthening a range of law enforcement measures targeting people smugglers.
The Australian Government will crack down on people smuggling by introducing measures to stop the flow of funds and support to people smuggling ventures. (Daily Mirror online)