A Sinhalese fisherman who fought the Rudd government in the Federal Court in a bid for asylum has been flown back to Sri Lanka, the last to be sent home from a group that reached the Australian mainland. Meril Fernando was sent home on Thursday, more than a year after he and 11 others travelled from Sri Lanka in a fishing boat fitted with a GPS. The 11 men and one teenage boy reached the West Australian coast on November 27, 2008, and were taken to Christmas Island. All have now been sent home; nine were forcibly removed last year and two went voluntarily more than year ago after being told their claims were rejected. Because their boat reached the mainland, all aboard were entitled to use the Australian legal system. Most asylum seekers are not because most boats are intercepted before they reach the mainland, then taken to Christmas Island. Mr Fernando appealed against his rejection to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Refugee Review Tribunal and the Federal Court. He asked Immigration Minister Chris Evans to intervene, but Senator Evans refused.
Asylum-seekers could be charged over boat blast; 19/2/10; http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/asylum-seekers-could-be-charged-over-boat-blast/story-e6frg6nf-1225831966147; Seeking haven, finding hell; David Marr; 20/2/10; http://www.theage.com.au/national/seeking-haven-finding-hell-20100219-olxy.html; Cat and mouse – the deadly game on our borders; 20/2/10; http://www.smh.com.au/world/cat-and-mouse–the-deadly-game-on-our-borders-20100219-olvv.html; The young ‘smugglers’ who were victims, too; Lindsay Murdoch; See: http://www.smh.com.au/world/the-young-smugglers-who-were-victims-too-20100219-olvw.html