16 Mar 2007

Australian refugee groups condemn government treatment of Sri Lankan refugees

10:19 am on 16 March 2007

Refugee groups in Australia have condemned the government's decision to send a group of 82 Sri Lankan asylum seekers to Nauru.

They've been detained on Christmas Island since they were intercepted by the Australian navy in international waters four weeks ago.

Refugee advocates say the Sri Lankans face years in limbo while their claims are assessed, and warn Australia could be breaching its international obligations.

But the Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews says sending the boat people to Nauru is a stronger deterrent to people smugglers than processing them on Christmas Island.

The government decided to transfer the men after failing to convince Indonesia to accept them for processing by the United Nations.