SYDNEY (AP) — Australia’s government has promised not to hand over a group of asylum seekers to the Sri Lankan government without three days’ notice amid a court challenge and uproar from human rights groups.
The government’s move on Tuesday came during a High Court hearing held one day after Australia’s immigration minister confirmed another boatload of asylum seekers had been intercepted by Australian border patrol and transferred to Sri Lankan authorities at sea. Refugee advocates say the asylum seekers will face persecution in Sri Lanka.
Lawyers representing some of the Sri Lankan asylum seekers on board a second boat that has been intercepted went to the High Court to stop the 153 people on that vessel from also being returned to Sri Lanka. They are currently on board an Australian customs vessel.