Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Australia Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe says turning back boats carrying asylum seekers to Australia is the best option to discourage such acts.
Samarasinghe believes, if done so, the asylum seekers will have to find alternative ways to get into Australia.
Speaking to Australia’s ABC Radio this morning, he said “Turning the boats around will deter people,”
“They know that they can’t leave Sri Lankan soil.” The Admiral has added.
Samarasinghe’s comments come just after a day where Sri Lankan security has captured 109 suspected asylum seekers who were leaving for Australia using boats.
However, the Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has dismissed suggestions that Australia follows Sri Lanka’s lead and turn back asylum seeker boats.
“It’s very different to turn a boat back or disrupt a boat in Sri Lankan waters, by Sri Lankan authorities,” he has told ABC Radio.
“If you turn a boat back either in Australian waters or in international waters, under international law they must be brought to the nearest port of call by the rescuing authority.” has added Bowen.
That could entice asylum seekers to sink their boats to prompt a response from Australia’s maritime rescue body.
“That is not the case in Sri Lanka … just as it’s not the case with any other disruption activities by a home country,” Mr Bowen said.
Admiral Samarasinghe has said Sri Lankan authorities never used force when turning asylum seeker boats around.
“When we stop (them) they have no other option than turn around with us,” he said.
“They can’t keep on going.” Samarasinghe has pointed out.
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