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    Wednesday, 12 September 2018

    Sri Lankan Navy arrests 90 on Reunion-bound trawler

    Sri Lanka 's navy Tuesday detained 90 people illegally travelling in a trawler bound for the French territory of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, a spokesman said. Commander Dinesh Bandara said the fishing boat was seized off Sri Lanka 's west coast and was being escorted to Colombo with 89 men and a woman on board. Sri Lanka’s navy yesterday detained 90 people illegally travelling in a trawler bound for the French territory of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, a spokesman said.
    Commander Dinesh Bandara said the fishing boat was seized off Sri Lanka’s west coast and was being escorted to Colombo with 89 men and a woman on board.
    “Preliminary investigations suggest that the boat was heading to Reunion Island,” Bandara said. “From there, they may have planned to move to another
    destination.”
    Sri Lankans are known to pay thousands of dollars to people smugglers to arrange highly risky boat rides to Europe, Australia or New Zealand in search of better economic prospects.
    However, the number of would-be emigrants leaving the island has drastically declined since Australia in 2013 closed its borders to illegal boat people with a military operation and zero tolerance policy.
    Canberra’s hardline immigration policy sees asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat processed in offshore compounds on Nauru and Papua New Guinea, with over 30 boats turned back since it began.
    In May, a group of 131 Sri Lankans were stopped by Malaysian authorities as they tried to head towards New Zealand by boat. All were returned to Sri Lanka to face prosecution for
    illegally leaving the island.

    A diozen Sri-Lankan deported by Australia

    At least a dozen Sri Lankan asylum seekers were yesterday forcibly deported by Australian authorities back to the island nation, a media report said.
    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, the Guardian reported.
    The asylum seekers were transported from detention centres across Australia and taken to Perth, from where they were flown out on a charter flight.
    The group has landed in Colombo but has not made contact with family or legal representatives, according to authorities.
    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 UN 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 deportation, the Australian government is increasingly using charter flights to deport asylum seekers it has judged do not meet its protection obligations.
    Meanwhile, the Australian government has consistently defended its removal processes of asylum seekers, saying it adheres strictly to international law, the Guardian said.

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