July 07, Galle: Sri Lanka Navy, confirming Australia's account of handing over the Sri Lankan asylum seekers in deep sea, said they are being brought ashore now.
Sri Lanka Navy's Offshore Patrol Vessel, SLNS Samudura is bringing 41 Australia-bound Sri Lankan illegal immigrants to the Galle Harbor, the Navy said today.
Australian authorities handed over the 41 asylum seekers to SLNS Samudura yesterday morning when it was on deep sea patrol in the southern seas of Sri Lanka.
Australia today confirmed the handover of the group of 37 Sinhalese and 4 Tamils to Sri Lanka Navy at sea, in mild sea conditions from a vessel assigned to Border Protection Command (BPC), just outside the Port of Batticaloa in Sri Lanka's East.
The return of the asylum seekers in mid sea has drawn the ire of human right organizations worldwide over Australia's policy on illegal migrants.
However, Australia defended the decision to return the illegal boat people with an on-sea screening process before they can reach the Australian shores.
Australian Minister of Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison said his government will not allow people smugglers to try and exploit and manipulate Australia's support of the international conventions as a tool to undermine Australia's strong border protection regime that is stopping the boats and the deaths at sea.
Sri Lanka Navy said it will hand over the group to the law enforcement authorities for further investigations when brought ashore.