Australia to crack down on refugees after riots

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrives with flowers to receive blessings at the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Colombo, Sri Lanka on Wednesday 4 April 2018. On wednesday (4), Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion in the Sri Lankan parliament with a 46 vote majority after a 12-hour debate with 122 MPs voted in his support while 76 MPs voting to remove the prime minister. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

SYDNEY, April 26, 2011 (AFP) – Australia moved to toughen its refugee stance Tuesday, launching a stricter character test so those convicted of crimes, including rioting, while in immigration detention could be shipped home. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the new law, if passed by parliament, would mean any asylum seeker found guilty of an offence while in detention would automatically fail character requirements for a visa.

It follows wild rioting in immigration facilities on Christmas Island last month and in Sydney, where fire gutted nine buildings last week as 100 inmates demonstrated against their detention at Villawood.

Dozens of people have been questioned by police over the riots but no charges have yet been laid.

Bowen said the character test amendments would be retrospective, meaning those convicted of crimes as a result of the riots could face deportation or receive only temporary visas with limited rights.

“Certainly the approach that I would be taking is to apply that test vigorously,” he told reporters.

The minister stressed that the overhaul would not breach Australia’s international obligations and “we will not be returning people who are genuine refugees to a country i