Human Rights Groups Raise Concerns Over New “Bonds” Between Australian And SL Govts

Human Rights groups have expressed concerns over the new ‘equation’ between the governments of Sri Lanka Australia saying it adversely affects the safety for Sri Lankan asylum seekers.

An NGO named Human Rights Law Centre had said Australia should be monitoring the safety of Sri Lankan asylum seekers it forcibly returns home.

The NGO adds that most Sri Lankan asylum seekers are genuine refugees but the way the Australian government treats them is based on a "politically expedient" assumption that they're economic migrants.

The report was particularly critical of the enhanced screening process Australia applies to Sri Lankans - a truncated assessment process in which they have no access to a lawyer and no independent review of the decision.

The rights group also raise doubts over the remarks made by the Australian government that no asylum seekers have been harmed once they have been forced to return to Sri Lanka.

It cites Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade cables released under freedom of information stating that an Australian Federal Police officer in Colombo declined to formally interview an asylum seeker who had claimed he was tortured in 2010 after being returned from Christmas Island.

It says Sri Lankans associated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or with scarring on their body are particularly vulnerable to mistreatment on interception by the Sri Lanka Navy.

Australia has sent about 1400 Sri Lankans back since 2012, Australian media reported.

 The report makes 22 recommendations including that Australia stop resourcing Sri Lankan authorities' interception of asylum seekers.

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