Australia returned 46 asylum seekers to Vietnam, says immigration minister

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An Australian navy boat (left) shadowing a boat believed to be carrying asylum seekers in July 2012. Photograph: BASARNAS/AFP/Getty Images

Paul Farrell
Tuesday 5 May 2015 15.42 AEST

Australian government has a policy of returning asylum seeker vessels directly, and has previously done so with Sri Lankans

Australia acted with the Vietnamese government to return 46 asylum seekers who were intercepted at sea, the immigration minister, Peter Dutton, has revealed.

The Australian government has adopted a policy of returning asylum seeker vessels directly, and has previously done so with Sri Lankans. The policy is implemented in secrecy, and the government has refused to discuss “on water” matters relating to its asylum policy.

Dutton confirmed for the first time the operation that was reported in April to turn back an asylum seeker vessel directly to Vietnam.

In the monthly Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) statement, Dutton said: “The 46 people were able to be safely returned to Vietnam after we were assured that they did not have a claim to protection and that we had met our international obligations.

“This would have not been possible without the assistance of the Vietnamese government.”

It is not clear what procedure was used to assess the asylum seekers. Previously the government has used a controversial form of fast-track processing known as “enhanced screening” to quickly decide whether people are likely to engage Australia’s obligations under international law.

But the process has been heavily criticised. A former immigration department official, Greg Lake, has called it a dangerous method that could have seen legitimate refugees returned to persecution.

The OSB update also revealed no further people had been transferred back to Manus Island or Nauru.

Lawyers are preparing to take action if asylum seekers with medical conditions who have been brought to the mainland from offshore detention centres are returned to the regional processing centres.

There are 971 asylum seekers on Manus Island and 677 on Nauru.

First published on The Guardian website, 05/05/2015

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I am a writer and editor, passionate about helping refugees and about exploring the challenges life throws at us through my writing. A former journalist, I previously worked in publishing and taught French to university students. I am a member of Supporting Asylum Seekers Sydney (SASS) and have also served on the board of my children’s school for the past 13 years, including three terms as vice-president. My work has appeared in online and print publications including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, Independent Australia, New Matilda, Eureka Street, Jewish Literary Journal, The Forward and Online Opinion. I can be contacted at sebban@tpg.com.au Tôi là nhà văn/nhà báo, và cũng là chủ bút. Với nhiệt tâm muốn giúp đỡ cho người tị nạn và tìm hiểu sâu xa hơn về những khó khăn trong cuộc sống mà chúng ta phải đương đầu qua những bài viết của tôi. Là một cựu phóng viên, trước đây tôi từng cho phát hành các ấn phẩm và đã từng dạy môn Pháp ngữ cho sinh viên đại học. Tôi là thành viên của Tổ chức Giúp đỡ Người Tầm Trú Sydney (Supporting Asylum Seekers Sydney, SASS); và trong 13 năm qua, tôi cũng là thành viên trong ban đại diện hội phụ huynh học sinh của trường các con tôi học, với ba nhiệm kỳ làm phó chủ tịch. Những bài viết của tôi được đăng trên báo và trên trang mạng của những tờ báo như The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, Independent Australia, New Matilda, Eureka Street, Jewish Literary Journal, The Forward and Online Opinion. Để liên lạc với tôi, xin gởi email đến địa chỉ sebban@tpg.com.au

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