At least a dozen Sri Lankan asylum seekers have been forcibly deported back to Sri Lanka, having been put on a specially chartered jet that left Perth on Tuesday, the Guardian Australia reported.
Some of the men deported had been in detention for more than six years in Australia, while others still had challenges before Australian courts pending. The majority were Tamil, but at least one was Sinhalese.
Guardian Australia has been provided with details of some of those returned but has chosen not to name them out of concern for their safety. Several had reported to Australian authorities they had previously been abducted and tortured by security forces in Sri Lanka.
The asylum seekers were transported from detention centres across Australia and taken to Perth, from where they were flown out on a charter flight run by Skytraders. The flight left at 1.57am.
The group landed in Colombo on Tuesday but has not made contact with family or legal representatives. Returned asylum seekers are, without previous exception, interviewed, arrested and charged by Sri Lanka police on arrival.
Human rights groups and legal advocates have serious concerns over the safety of returned asylum seekers.
The United Nations rapporteur on countering terrorism wrote in a report in July that Sri Lanka’s progress towards peace had “virtually ground to a halt”, and that he heard evidence of “very brutal and cruel methods of torture, including beatings with sticks, the use of stress positions, asphyxiation using plastic bags drenched in kerosene, pulling out of fingernails”.
With airlines under pressure globally over their role in forced deportations, the Australian government is increasingly using charter flights to deport asylum seekers it has judged not to meet its protection obligations.
The Department of Home Affairs recently awarded Skytrader a three-year $63m tender, to begin in December, providing “a dedicated airframe to meet operational demands for the movement of high-risk persons and departmental staff between on-shore and offshore locations”.
The tender, to follow on from an existing $144m contract, stresses the “variable, discreet and confidential nature of ABF’s operations” and says the department needs to take “long-range, multisector flights with limited notice”.
The issue of corporate cooperation in forced removals came to renewed international attention last month when Swedish student Elin Ersson refused to sit down on a plane at Gothenburg airport, protesting that an Afghan man was being deported “to hell”. She succeeded, and the man was removed from the plane.
Similar protests have been staged in Australia, resulting, in some cases, in criminal charges laid against protesters.
The Australian government does not comment on the specific cases but has consistently defended its removal processes, saying it adheres strictly to international law.
“Australia does not remove people to Sri Lanka who engage Australia’s non-refoulement obligations,” a spokesperson said. “Australia takes its non-refoulement obligations seriously.”
Unchikun Tuesday, 11 September 2018 12:05
Australia has been a destination for both legal and illegal economic asylum seekers. Good they are sent back. Sri Lanka is now safe to even rehabilitated hardcore terrorist. Welcome back home, get a loan (interest free ) and start a new meaningful life.
Reply : 7 71
Winslow Tuesday, 11 September 2018 12:59
Your Sri Lankan Police by arresting the failed asylum seekers on their arrival is proof enough how horrible your country is to the Tamils. They have to go their separate ways soon.
Reply : 74 15
Migrant Tuesday, 11 September 2018 14:57
Piss off you fool, they are illegally trying to leave the country. Even the Sinhala one is being arrested. Please use your brain
Reply : 9 28
Ahmed Wednesday, 12 September 2018 13:37
@Winslowa failed asylum seeker is not an actual asylum seeker. what will happen to sri lankas passport if sri lanka dont investigate about these human smugglers and economic migrants who pose as asylum seekers ? sri lankas passport is already 1 of the worst passports in the world. sri lanka should take every action to make sri lankan passport better again
Reply : 1 5
SL Tuesday, 11 September 2018 12:12
Now the torture account shall goes to poor sinhalese living in north and east.What the gvt has to say about NPCs new bill regarding Tamil only North.Are we going to sen all the Tamils living in South to north! RW ,JVP,MS shall tell us their opinion in public.
Reply : 19 43
Ceylon Tuesday, 11 September 2018 15:23
If tell the truth,north is a tamil.country which annexed to the south by force,by portugese,holland and english.no aurprise that they want back their country.countries cant keep united by firce.look at soviet union,it broken up to 14 countries with the collapse of communism.
Reply : 24 6
LAL Tuesday, 11 September 2018 20:32
The first Sinhalese originate from the North and were pushed southwards due to invasions
Reply : 4 9
Saman Tuesday, 11 September 2018 17:16
ScoMo is getting in the process of rid of Tamil scum!
Reply : 9 9
Hansen Wednesday, 12 September 2018 12:12
Good on Australia mate for getting rid of these economic migrants. Send them all back to wherever that they came from. We do not need them here.
Reply : 0 0
Yoges Wednesday, 12 September 2018 14:30
Can’t help if people want to flee a beggar country and take up citizenship of a good country so that their children become educated. If they live in hopeless for ever Sri Lanka they will end up as maids and servants in prosperous India and China
Reply : 2 0
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