The Australian Federal Government has defended sending four men back to Sri Lanka this month after intercepting their boat off the Cocos Islands, describing it as a people smuggling venture.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said interviewers determined the men were not refugees, and their return to Sri Lanka sent a "very strong message to the people smugglers".
"The intelligence tells us that the people smugglers just haven't given up ... they will continue to peddle their evil trade," he said.
"These are organised criminal syndicates that are involved in trying to leverage money out of people to get them onto boats, but those people are wasting their money, they're wasting their time, and they're wasting their effort. They will not be coming to Australia. "
Each Sri Lankan was interviewed on board the border protection boat by trained officers supported by independent qualified interpreters, Mr Dutton said.
The next day they were transferred at sea to Sri Lankan authorities.
The United Nations refugee agency has expressed deep concern about interception at sea, and the removal of people seeking Australia's protection.
But Mr Dutton said the Australian Government was "acting well and truly within not only our domestic but our international law obligations".
"We are very happy that we are acting in a responsible way," he said.
The Government recently confirmed that 15 boats carrying more than 400 people had been turned back under Operation Sovereign Borders.
'Implausible on-water screening process is legitimate'
Hugh de Kretser from the Human Rights Law Centre argued the screening process used was not safe.
"Only two out of over 400 people have been found to have a potential refugee claim yet historically we know that 90 per cent of boat arrivals on Australian shores will be found to be refugee," he said.
"It is simply implausible that this on-water screening process is a legitimate one.
"There are huge risks involved in it. People need to be brought to Australia and properly processed on land with access to proper legal advice."
Trevor Grant from the Tamil Refugee Council called it a shameful process.
"Two asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, who were returned by the Australian Government under this process, they're now living in Nepal," he said.
"They said that they were given a satellite phone by a customs and border protection [officer] while they were on the boat during their so-called interview.
"They said they couldn't hear the person on the other end of the line properly. In such circumstances it's ridiculous to believe that they could."
He said they risk being returned to persecution.
Mr Dutton said he was confident Sri Lankan authorities would "act in a way that is responsible" which "most Australians would see ... as a fair deal".
"We've found a very credible partner in Sri Lanka and there's obviously been a long-standing co-operation between our two countries," he said.
"With the new administration in Sri Lanka, I think they've demonstrated to be very effective in staring down what is a problem for all of us, that is people leaving by boats."
"We have arrangements and undertakings with the Sri Lankan Government and that has been exercised in relation to this matter."
Mr Dutton said he was "absolutely confident people [would] be dealt with according to Sri Lankan law".
"We are dealing with a very credible administration in Sri Lanka and we have a lot of faith in the discussions that we have with them," he said.
"I'm not going into the details of the exact points that we've agreed on or the arrangements we have in place, but we're absolutely confident people will be dealt with according to Sri Lankan law and we have satisfied ourselves that we do not owe these people a migration outcome."(ABC)