After weeks at sea, a group of 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers has arrived on Australian soil.
The group which had set off from India spent one month aboard an Australian customs vessel as the government assessed their claims.
The decision to move them came after a high court challenge from human rights lawyers who questioned the government’s right to assess applications at sea.
The lawyers are also considering further legal action, saying they might sue the government for illegal imprisonment. The group were allegedly kept in small, windowless rooms for up to 21 hours a day, family members were kept apart and no translators were provided.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison believes that the group are economic migrants. Most of the Tamils are believed to be Sri Lankans who fled the civil war and have been living in refugee camps in southern India
Indian consular officials will interview them and have agreed to take back any of their nationals.
Australia’s policies on asylum have been attracting criticism from rights groups as well as the UN.
In the first seven months of last year 220 boats carrying up to 16,000 asylum seekers came to Australia. Since December 2013, no illegal boat arrivals have been recorded.