Nov 02, Sydney: Australia has returned another group of Sri Lankan nationals home on a charter flight that left from Christmas Island late Thursday.
The office of Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen said in a release that 26 single adult Sri Lankan males, who arrived by boat at Christmas Island and Cocos Islands earlier this week, were advised of their status and removed from Australia.
The men had not made any claims for asylum in Australia and therefore Australia had no any international obligations to them, Bowen has told media.
"Without a valid visa they had no legal right to remain in Australia and were removed at the earliest opportunity," the release said.
With yesterday's group Australian authorities have also returned the final member of the group of 15 Sri Lankans who arrived on the pirated vessel Thejan. Sri Lankan authorities have issued a warrant for his arrest over the hijacking of the vessel and assault on the vessel's occupants in mid sea.
With the latest group Australia had returned 116 Sri Lankans home - voluntarily and involuntarily -since 13 August.
The MP's office further said that the Australian government is committed to breaking the evil people smuggling trade and preventing people from taking dangerous boats.
"People who pay smugglers are risking their lives and throwing their money away. There is no visa awaiting them on arrival, no speedy outcome, and no special treatment," the office statement said.
When asked about the cost to return the asylum seekers on chartered flights, the Minister justified the cost saying that it is a cost well-worth paying if it helps to deter the asylum seekers and break the people smugglers spin.
Australia will continue to regularly transfer people to detention centers in Nauru and shortly to Manus Island, and return them to their original countries, the Minister said.