Dec 13, Perth: Australia today returned home a group of 42 Sri Lankan men involuntarily while another six men have left voluntarily, the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship confirmed.
Five of the six men left voluntarily were transferred from Nauru to the mainland before departing Perth for Colombo on a commercial flight. A sixth man who had been detained in Western Australia had joined them.
"The six men chose to return home voluntarily," a departmental spokesman said.
Over the past weekend eight Sri Lankans, five form Christmas Island on Saturday and three from Perth on Sunday, returned to Sri Lanka voluntarily.
According to the spokesman transfers of boat arrivals to Nauru have continued and more would be returned in the coming weeks.
The involuntary returnees - all recent arrivals from different boats, have been advised of their status and that they were subject to removal from Australia. They have raised no issues that engaged Australia's international obligations, the authorities said.
With the latest return 682 Sri Lankans have been sent back to Colombo involuntarily and another 85 voluntarily after August 13 when Australia announced that irregular maritime arrivals or boatpeople would be transferred to regional processing facilities in Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
The asylum seekers are required to stay in the offshore detention centers for a long time before they can get a visa.
Australia says the Sri Lankan boatpeople are getting the message that there is no visa on arrival, and there is no special treatment.
"Regular transfers to Nauru and more Sri Lankans returning home is further proof there is no advantage engaging with people smugglers," the spokesman said.
"We will continue to return people to Sri Lanka. We will continue to transfer people to Nauru, and to Manus Island," office of the Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen said.
People in a regional processing center or immigration detention can voluntarily return to their home country at any time.