The Australia’s Â Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today announced that a groupÂ of 16 Sri Lankan men â€“ part of the post-13 August caseload affected by new regionalÂ processing arrangements â€“ are returning home voluntarily, the Australian High Commission in Colombo said today.
Two other Sri Lankan men in immigration detention who arrived before 13 August are alsoÂ being returned.
The men were removed on a charter flight from Christmas Island to Colombo today thatÂ departed at 8.15am local time.
â€œThese individuals chose not to pursue asylum claims and face transfer to a regionalÂ processing centre in Nauru or Papua New Guinea and instead chose to return homeÂ voluntarily,â€ Bowen said.
â€œWe have completed more transfers of boat arrivals to Nauru this week and they will continueÂ to occur in the coming days and weeks.
â€œBoth the Nauru transfers and this group of adult Sri Lankan men choosing to return homeÂ provide further evidence that the people smugglers are selling lies and misleading asylumÂ seekers about the situation they will face if they reach Australia by boat.
â€œPeople who pay smugglers to risk their lives on a dangerous sea journey are throwing theirÂ money away, as demonstrated by the speedy return of this group.
â€œTransfers off Christmas Island will continue. People arriving by boat will be sent to Nauru andÂ Papua New Guinea. This Government is determined to break the people smuggling trade andÂ stop people getting on those dangerous boats,â€ Mr Bowen said.
People in immigration detention can request their removal from Australia at any point in time.Â Those who choose to depart voluntarily can be provided with individual reintegration supportÂ to assist with their sustainable return, through the International Organization for Migration.
According to the Australian High Commission in Colombo, Bowen said the Australian Government was committed to implementing the Expert Panel on AsylumÂ Seekersâ€™ key principle related to a strategic, comprehensive and integrated policy approachÂ that provides no advantage to people choosing to travel to Australia by boat.