Source diac, 21 Jan
A group of seven Sri Lankan asylum seekers voluntarily returned to Colombo today, bringing the total number of voluntary returns to Sri Lanka to 213 since August 13.
A Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman said the men travelled to Colombo from Perth following their transfer from mainland detention sites.
“These men departed voluntarily,” the spokesman said.
“They chose not to pursue their asylum claims and no longer seek to engage Australia’s protection obligations.
“This is further proof that there is no advantage engaging with people smugglers.”
The spokesman said that while further transfers to Nauru would occur in the coming weeks, it was also expected more people would choose to return to their home country voluntarily.
There are 942 Sri Lankans who have returned home – both voluntarily and involuntarily – since August 13 when the government announced irregular maritime arrivals would be liable for transfer to regional processing facilities in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
People in a regional processing centre or immigration detention facility can request their removal from Australia at any time.