Canberra, Sep 11 (IANS) At least a dozen Sri Lankan asylum seekers were on Tuesday 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.