With the help of agencies, ausnepal news reporter/
July 27, Kathmandu- A group of 157 asylum seekers held at sea will be brought to the Australian mainland to be detained, Australia’s immigration minister says. The group have been held at sea by customs officials for almost a month.
Rights groups had voiced serious concerns about their treatment. The case came to light earlier this month as Australia detained a separate boat of Sri Lankan asylum seekers, screened their asylum claims at sea and returned them to Sri Lanka. Human rights activists filed a legal challenge aimed at preventing similar handling of this second group of people.
Lawyers say the group, which departed from India, includes Sri Lankan Tamils.
Rights groups say Tamils can still face intimidation and violence in Sri Lanka, five years after the end of the civil war, which pitted the majority Sinhalese Sri Lankan military against Tamil separatists.
Under international treaties, Australia cannot return people to places where they might face persecution. UN refugee body UNHCR has also expressed concern about the fairness of on-water screening of asylum claims.