Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor
Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor Debrah Novak

Latest return of asylum seekers sends powerful message

ALMOST 1250 Sri Lankans who arrived in Australia on boats have been sent home in less than a year after they failed to prove they were genuine asylum-seekers.

Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor has confirmed a plane left Christmas Island on Thursday carrying 41 Sri Lankans and touched down in Colombo later that night.

It was the 30th plane of returns since August and took the number of Sri Lankans sent home to 1247 - with 1035 of them involuntarily.

Mr O'Connor said the latest return sent a powerful message to those people considering paying people smugglers to get to Australia.

"We are committed to breaking the evil people smuggling trade, deterring people from taking dangerous journeys by boat and saving lives at sea," Mr O'Connor said.

"When people arrive in Australia without authorisation, any claims they make for their reasons to travel to Australia are assessed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

"If the claims do not enliven Australia's international obligations, they will be returned to their homeland wherever possible."

Two asylum-seeker boats have gone missing in the past week, with scores of people presumed drowned.Meanwhile, the Federal Government confirmed another four boats carrying more than 250 people were intercepted this week.

Two boats - one with 107 passengers and three crew and the other with 108 passengers and four crew - were stopped north of Christmas Island on Wednesday.

On Thursday, a vessel carrying 35 passengers was stopped north-west of Broome, and on Friday a boat with eight passengers and two crew was intercepted east of Christmas Island.All passengers were transferred to Christmas Island to undergo health and security checks.



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