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Last updated: 25 October, 2009 - Published 15:22 GMT
 
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Australian Green seeks sanctions
 
A boat carrying migrants to Australia
Many refugees attempt to reach Australia by sea
The leader of Australia's Green Party has urged the government to consider sanctions against Sri Lanka amid concerns about the treatment of the country's Tamil population.

Bob Brown said more action was needed if the government was to stop Tamil civilians leaving Sri Lanka to seek asylum in Australia.

The Sri Lankan government ended a long-running civil war against Tamil Tiger rebels earlier this year, but the end of the conflict has seen a surge in Tamil asylum-seekers.

A boat carrying more than seventy Sri Lankan asylum-seekers was rescued by the Australian navy last week.

Illegal migrants

Another a group of more than 250 Sri Lankan asylum seekers sailing towards Australia were arrested off Indonesia, two weeks ago.

The government has blamed the recent rise in asylum seekers on the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, along with the global economic downturn.

Australia's opposition has linked the upsurge with a relaxation of the country's immigration policy since Kevin Rudd became prime minister in late 2007.

The Rudd government scrapped the widely-criticised policy of his predecessor, John Howard, under which asylum-seekers and their children were detained for years in special centres in Nauru or Papua New Guinea, a plan labelled the "Pacific Solution".

Asylum seekers now arriving by boat are held on Christmas Island, but their claims must be expedited, with six-monthly case reviews by an ombudsman now government policy.

 
 
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