Colombo: Eighteen Sri Lankans, who sought asylum in Australia, have been deported back to their country after they withdrew their bid that would have forced them to spend months at a regional processing centre.
A special flight carrying the group accompanied by Australian officials, arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport.
Canberra has begun sending asylum seekers to the tiny Pacific Ocean island of Nauru, and intends to ship others to Papua New Guinea`s Manus Island, as a disincentive to stem a record number of arrivals making the dangerous sea journey to Australia.
Conditions on Nauru are basic, with the government still building permanent accommodation. Most asylum seekers are likely to spend their first months housed in tents.
Faced with such prospects, the Sri Lankans had refused to be sent to Nauru having been under detention on Christmas Island.
They were among thousands who had attempted to land in Australian territory by making the risky journey on board fishing trawlers.
Sri Lanka Navy said they had arrested over 1,500 Sri Lankans in an immigration scam, since the end of April.
With the recurrence of attempted journeys, Australia legislated last month to accommodate them in Nauru, pending asylum-claim processing.
Similarly, some 28 were deported by UK in the latest of charter flights arranged by the UK authorities for failed asylum seekers who returned home on Thursday.
The returns occurred despite opposition from the London-based rights group, Human Rights Watch.
The HRW cites cases of harassment and torture among return cases.
Sri Lanka however stresses no such treatment had been meted out to returnees, a large majority of whom represent Tamil minority.