Yesterday, in a dramatic backdown, the Australian government agreed to allow 56 Tamils asylum seekers who were due to be deported to Sri Lanka to make applications to be granted asylum as refugees.


Today, the Australian government is once again planning to deport another group of Tamils who have been subject to a “screening out” process which denies them the right to proceed with a a full refugee application.


The decision to allow 56 of those awaiting deportation to stay followed an application to the High Court to examine whether the Tamils had been given a proper chance to make refugee applications. Rather than go ahead with the hearing, the government “screened” them back into the refugee process.


On November 30, another group of “screened out” Sri Lankans were deported. On arrival, they were imprisoned outside the capital of Sri Lanka at Colombo in Negombo prison. While some have now been released, they are likely to be subject to continued surveillance and discrimination.

...On December 3, the Bishop of Mannar, Dr Rayappu Joseph wrote to the Australian government: “it is highly dangerous for the asylum seekers from the North and East of Sri Lanka to be sent back to Sri Lanka in the prevailing political situation in our regions.” According to Dr Joseph, threats, discrimination, restrictions, surveillance and questioning are routinely used leaving those who are deported living in fright and fear.