Sunday, May 31, 2015Sunday, May 31, 2015

Australia promises to give 72 hours notice before returning Sri Lanka asylum seekers

Published on Jul 8, 2014 2:38 PM

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australia promised on Tuesday not to return a boatload of asylum seekers to Sri Lanka without providing 72 hours notice, a move hailed by human rights lawyers as a minor victory in a case that has raise concerns about the country's tough immigration policy.

An emergency High Court hearing over the fate of 153 asylum seeker intercepted at sea by Australian authorities was adjourned after that pledge to allow the government to discuss the next steps with lawyers acting for the asylum seekers.

Human rights lawyers brought the legal challenge following the interception and return on Sunday of 41 other Sri Lankan asylum seekers on a separate boat by Australian authorities.

Sri Lankan police said on Monday those 41 would be charged with leaving the country illegally and any found guilty would face "rigorous imprisonment", raising fears about rights abuses.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!