15 Mar 2007

Australia to send Sri Lankan asylum seekers to Nauru

8:03 pm on 15 March 2007

A group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers intercepted by the Australian navy near Christmas Island last month will be transferred to Nauru for processing.

The Australian immigration minister, Kevin Andrews, says the government had again decided to process asylum seekers' claims for refugee status offshore to send a strong message to people-smugglers.

The Sri Lankans are reported to have paid up to 10,000 US dollars for the voyage.

The 82 asylum seekers are on Christmas Island and Australia will fly them to Nauru by charter plane.

Australia set up an offshore processing centre on Nauru in 2001 after hundreds of Middle eastern asylum seekers bound for Australia were rescued by a Norwegian freighter in the Indian Ocean.