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Friday, 22 December 2017 - 13:28
Forced return of a SL refugee by Australia criticized by UNHCR
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The United Nations’ refugee agency has condemned Australia’s forced return of an asylum seeker to Sri Lanka without any assessment of his claim for protection, saying the man is at serious risk of persecution in his homeland.
 
The UNHCR had sought assurances from the Australian government the man would not be removed from the country and would be allowed to apply for protection.
 
But yesterday (21), the man was forcibly removed, in handcuffs, from Villawood detention center and flown back to Sri Lanka.
 
The Australian government has maintained that the man was removed because he missed its 1st of October deadline to apply for protection, and was deemed not to be seeking protection.
 
However, lawyers for the man said he had a “credible claim” for protection, based on his Tamil ethnicity, and familial connection to the now-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Tamil Tigers.
 
It is not suggested he was a member of the LTTE.
 
The man had struggled to fill out the 41-page protection application form in English unassisted and was not able to access legal assistance before the deadline.
 
With assistance from the Refugee Advice and Casework Service, he lodged an application for protection during October but was told he had missed the deadline and his claim would not be assessed.
 
Lawyers and advocates for the returned man have not been able to contact him since he was returned.
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