Australian government hands navy boats to Sri Lanka
Wednesday, July 09, 2014 - 01:10
Australian government gives two navy boats to Sri Lanka amidst controversy over Canberra's handling of two boat loads of refugees from this Island nation. Natalie Thomas reports.
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Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa takes delivery of two naval boats, a gift from Australia.
The donation follows several high-profile cases in which boatloads of Sri Lankans have tried to claim asylum in the country.
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) AUSTRALIAN IMMIGRATION MINISTER SCOTT MORRISON SAYING:
Today is a symbol of the strong partnership that exists between Australia and Sri Lanka in dealing with people smuggling. The message to anyone who is thinking of getting in Australia illegally by boat is that the way is closed
Australia's handling of two boats of migrants from the country who were intercepted over the past week has drawn strong criticism by the United Nations and other human rights groups
These 41 asylum seekers were on one of them.
They were returned to Sri Lanka where they were charged for leaving the country illegally.
The government has said that any who are found guilty will face "rigourous imprisonment"
Sri Lanka says many asylum seekers are in fact economic migrants.
But rights groups say Tamils seek asylum to prevent torture, rape and other violence at the hands of the military
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