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* Australia to transfer Sri Lankan asylum seekers from boat to detention center in mainland
Fri, Jul 25, 2014, 10:50 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

July 25, Colombo: Australian authorities will transfer157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers detained in a Australian Customs ship to a detention center in Western Australia, ABC news reported.

The ABC has learnt that the 157 men, women and children are being transferred to the Cocos Islands, and from there will be flown to the Curtin detention center in remote Western Australia.

The Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that the Sri Lankan asylum seekers will be brought to the mainland. He has said it is Government's intention to return the asylum seekers to India where they came from.

The Sri Lankan asylum seekers, who set sail from Pondicherry, India last month to seek asylum in Australia were held on board an Australian Customs ship at an unknown location, after they were intercepted by the authorities in mid sea.

They have been held on board the Customs ship, while their legal status is determined after a case was filed on behalf of the asylum seekers in a Melbourne court. The case will be heard by a full bench of the High Court in Canberra next month, ABC News reported.

Australia earlier this month handed over 41 Sri Lankan asylum seekers who were heading for their shores, to the Sri Lankan Navy in mid sea.

The move drew heavy criticism from the UN agency for refugees and from human right groups and human rights lawyers obtained a court order preventing the Australian government from immediately returning the 153 asylum seekers to Sri Lanka without a hearing of their claims.

The lawyers for the asylum seekers have also asked the court to order the Australian Government not to return them to Nauru or Papua New Guinea.

The lawyers have told the court that the Australian government had acted illegally when the asylum seekers were intercepted in sea beyond Australia's immigration control.

The Federal Government has said that the people on board the vessel did not hold visas entitling them to travel to or enter Australia.

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