Last Updated : 26-07-2014 14:23



Australia drops travel warning

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The Australian Foreign Affairs department has dropped its travel warning for northern Sri Lanka - only days after Australia deported a Tamil asylum seeker to the country.

Australia's official travel advice had warned people ''do not travel'' to the former separatist Tamil Tiger strongholds around Jaffna on the island's north.
The advice had seemed at odds with the decision last week to deport Tamil asylum seeker Dayan Anthony, given the region had been his home.
But this afternoon the Foreign Affairs department issued a note to say the warning had been updated.

''We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Sri Lanka at this time because of the high risk of politically motivated violence,'' it reads.
''We no longer advise against travel to the northern province of Sri Lanka.''

The travel advice draws on information - including intelligence assessments - and is said to be under constant review.

The advice is intended to be separate of political considerations and has often proved an irritant in relations with other countries.

The detail of the advice on Sri Lanka continues to warn of ''marked and unmarked minefields and unexploded ordnance are widespread in some areas'' of the northern province.

The overall level of advice for Sri Lanka is to ''exercise a high degree of caution'' - the second warning level of a four stage system Foreign Affairs employs, with ''do not travel'' the highest.

Mr Anthony - who sought asylum in Australia in 2010 - had exhausted his appeals for a refugee visa.

But his family had warned his life was in danger back in Sri Lanka.

He was held for 16 hours on his return, emerging to give a press conference organised by the Sri Lankan government withdrawing claims he had been tortured and accusing Australian officials of manhandling him during his deportation.

A Foreign Affairs spokesman said the new travel advice on the northern province was consistent with the level of consular partners.

''Canada has had an identical level of 'Exercise a high degree of caution (level 2 of 4) across Sri Lanka, including Northern Province', for some time; the UK and the US have no travel restrictions in place for Sri Lanka, including Northern Province,'' he said in a statement.

''The reissued travel advice reflects our best judgement on the changed security conditions in the Northern Province.''  (Source: SMH)


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