Australia's Immigration Minister has confirmed that 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers, including children, were transferred to Nauru in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The Tamil asylum seekers had originally set sail from India in June in a bid to seek asylum in Australia, but they were intercepted by a Customs ship and held at sea for nearly a month while refugee advocates undertook a High Court challenge.
The asylum seekers were eventually taken to a remote detention centre in northwestern Australia, before being transferred to Nauru on three seperate flights.
The Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison told local media on Saturday that he had hoped the asylum seekers would choose to return to India, but they all refused.
Refugee Advocates say they are outraged by the move to send the asylum seekers to Australia's detention centre on Nauru for processing, where they have no hope of resettlement in Australia.
In a statement, the executive director of the Human Rights Law Reform Centre, Hugh de Kretser, said the transfer was a deliberate move to prevent legal scrutiny and highlighted the government's deception, secrecy and willingness to undermine the rule of law.