Refugee advocates fear that a charter flight leaving Christmas Island today (around midday Christmas Island time) is removing Sri Lankan asylum seekers to Colombo.

“We have grave concerns that the government has screened out some of the Sri Lankan asylum seekers who arrived at Geraldton nine days ago and is removing them today from Christmas Island,” said Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Disgracefully, the Geraldton people have been denied access to lawyers or community assistance. They have been denied phone calls
since arriving in Australia.”

“Any attempt to screen them out will be a vindictive move by the Immigration Minister determined to teach asylum seekers a lesson for daring to land on the Australian mainland. We are calling on Brendan O’Connor to allow legal access to all asylum seekers and stop the secretive screening-out procedures used to deny asylum seekers the right to claim asylum,” said Rintoul.

“The fact that screening-out is done behind closed doors, with no scrutiny or accountability says everything about the lengths the
government will go to discriminate against asylum seekers. They know screening-out is legally dodgy and will do anything to prevent any legal or independent scrutiny of their actions.”

“It is time for the Minister to come clean. The idea that asylum seekers do not wish to make protection claims is simply not
believable. It should not be left to some Immigration bureaucrat to determine whether as asylum seekers has a credible claim. That is a basic denial of justice. Every claim should be subject to the same refugee determination procedures. Justice must be seen to be done – but all we are seeing is justice denied.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul on 0417 275 713

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