Emily Howie’s update on irregular migrants and government reactions

Emily Howie

Hi all
Here is an update on the boat migration issues between Australia and Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, this will be my final update of this kind as I have completed my fellowship and have returned to work with the Human Rights Law Centre in Melbourne, Australia. However I will continue to work on these and other issues with the Human Rights Law Centre and will provide updates through the Centre’s website on the international developments page (http://www.hrlc.org.au/category/primary/hr-development/hr-development-international) and also through the Centre’s monthly bulletin (subscribe on the top right of this page: http://www.hrlc.org.au/). I highly recommend subscribing to the Bulletin.
I look forward to staying in touch.  I am also now contactable on emily.howie@hrlc.org.au.
Best wishes, …………………………….Emily
This report documents the abuse and neglect of migrant children in Indonesian immigration detention and in the Indonesian community. The report is based on interviews with migrants, 43% of which were Sri Lankan.
The Australian
7 July 2013
The Australian government is looking to enter into bilateral agreements with more states to arrange for the return of asylum seekers it deems are not eligible for protection. Australia’s Home Affairs Minister claimed that returns to Sri Lanka had proved to be a more effective deterrent than off-shore processing.
8 July 2013
A Sri Lankan woman detained in Australian immigration detention has launched a case in the High Court of Australia to challenge her detention. The woman is being held indefinitely on the basis of an adverse security assessment from Australia’s security and intelligence agency.
Daily Mirror
5 July 2013
Australia returns more Sri Lankans involuntary. Since August last year Australia has returned 1285 Sri Lankans, 1072 involuntarily. The Australian government says that the returnees do not have claims that engage Australia’s international obligations.
Perth Now
5 July 2013
Australia’s Opposition commits to use the Australian navy to turn asylum seeker boats around.
The Australian
5 July 2013
The Australian government claims that it failed to take appropriate action to stem the people smuggling trade in Sri Lanka at the end of the civil war. This article argues that the claim is not supported by the evidence, which shows that Sri Lankan boat arrivals actually reduced dramatically in the years following the end of the civil war in 2009, and spiked again only in 2012. “Sri Lankans did not start arriving en masse until last year when 6428 arrived, their passage spurred by high-level corruption within the Sri Lankan government and an influx of Sinhalese economic migrants. Sri Lanka denies any allegations of corruption.”
Brisbane Times
2 July 2013
Following the statement by Australia’s foreign minister that boat arrivals are coming for economic reasons, this article fact checks the minister’s statement and concludes it is wrong. It looks at the ongoing persecution in source countries that leads to boat arrivals in Australia.
Colombo Page
25 June 2013
Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, GL Peiris, on a visit to Australia, said that he can ‘absolutely’ guarantee the safety of the asylum seekers returned to Australia.  “The actions taken by these governments independently is proof enough of the  fact that conditions in Sri Lanka are stable and that there is no danger at all  to these people,” the Minister said. See also the ABC coverage: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-25/sri-lankan-foreign-minister-disputes-refugee-claims/4777790.
Daily Mirror
22 June 2013
During his visit to Australia, GL Peiris claimed that people smuggling has long been a revenue raiser for the Tamil Tigers. He stated that LTTE operatives continue to intimidate people in the diaspora and extort money and urged the Australian government to proscribe the LTTE as a terrorist organisation.
Business STandard
19 June 2013
80 Sri Lankan people were detained after being intercepted attempting to migrate by boat to Australia. The report states that the navy has intercepted 1500 people and that the Sri Lankan navy has increased the number of patrol boats used to intercept people smuggling boats.
The Guardian
17 June 2013
An opinion piece arguing that Australia’s truncated process for determining which boat arrivals are forcibly returned places Sri Lankan asylum seekers at risk of torture and mistreatment on return.
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