ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 47

Govt. in the dark over swapping of Lankan detainees

The government has not been officially informed of a move by Australia to send 83 Sri Lankan asylum seekers to the United States in terms of a swapping programme between Washington and Canberra. Under the agreement, the United States and Australia have agreed to swap upto 200 asylum seekers every year and the 83 Sri Lankan asylum seekers who are being detained in Nauru are among the first to be sent to the United States.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said there was little Sri Lanka could do as the agreement was between two other countries although the government was concerned about the 83 Sri Lankans.

The Australian navy arrested the Sri Lankans in mid-February near Australia's Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island when they attempted to illegally enter the country.

Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva on a visit to Australia recently held discussions with authorities regarding the return of the Sri Lankan detainees.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.