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* HR chief concerned over Australia's policy to return Sri Lankan asylum seekers
Sat, Nov 10, 2012, 01:38 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Nov 09, Colombo: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has expressed concern at Australia's new policy of returning Sri Lankan asylum seekers home immediately from the detention centers in Nauru and Manus islands.

Ms. Pillay who is in Bali, Indonesia attending the Bali Democracy Forum has said that she was concerned at the policy Australia enacted after August 13 this year to detain illegal migrants in offshore detention centers for a long time.

''I am highly concerned that detention in regional offshore processing centres such as in Nauru could result in indefinite detention and other human rights violations,'' she has said.

Speaking of returning Sri Lankan asylum seekers immediately after they embarked in islands belonged to Australia, Ms. Pillay has said that "Sri Lanka was still volatile, despite the end of the civil war in 2009."

"Now that was a conflict area, matters have not stabilised as yet. All the reports reaching me are that people are concerned over controls being imposed over them,'' she has been quoted as saying.

''So I can understand if they'd be leaving out of fear or for their personal security, and it really cries out for all the refugee protections, asylum seeker protections to be made particularly applicable to them,'' she has said.

Backing Australia's policy the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently said that some Sri Lankans arriving by boat in Australia are economic migrants not refugees.

Since the Australian government's new rules came into effect on August 13, Australia has deported voluntarily and involuntarily 186 Sri Lankans home.

Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen has said that those asylum seekers had not raised any issues that engaged Australia's international obligations.

The IOM is assisting the Australian government to return the Sri Lankan asylum seekers, who have expressed desire to return home rather than being sent to detention centers in Nauru and Manus Island.

People returning voluntarily receive an integration assistance package from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the involuntary deportees do not have access to reintegration assistance.

** Related Story :: Some Sri Lankan boat people to Australia are economic migrants -IOM

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