SYDNEY (AP) — Australia’s immigration minister says Sri Lankan asylum seekers who have been languishing on board an Australian customs vessel for weeks will temporarily be brought to the mainland.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement Friday comes amid a court challenge and outrage from human rights groups.
Two boats of Sri Lankans were intercepted by Australia’s border patrol in the Indian Ocean in late June. Australia handed the passengers on the first boat to the Sri Lankan government after their refugee claims were assessed at sea and rejected. Rights advocates said the migrants could face persecution back home.
The second boat originally set off from India. Morrison says the asylum seekers will be taken to Australia where they will meet with Indian consular officials about their possible return to India.