Boat People

GALLE, July 8, 2014 (AFP) – A Sri Lankan court Tuesday granted bail to 27 of 41 migrants who were returned to the country by Australia after a controversial mid-sea transfer, with one of them slamming Canberra for its lack of human rights. As anxious relatives waited outside the colonial-era court building in the southern city of Galle, a magistrate remanded five others in the group for another two weeks in custody and discharged nine children.

One of the detainees, Dhamith Caldera, told AFP that he would “complain to the UN” over his treatment by Australian customs authorities and denied that he had been screened as a possible asylum seeker.

“They never asked any questions. They just wanted us to go back,” he said, declining to answer if he believed he had a case for asylum. “They treated us very badly.”

He said that they had been given food past its expiry date and people had not been given medicine.

“When women were down with fever, they were just given water,” he added. “We were starved. Where is Australia’s human rights?”

The group arrived in the late morning by bus and were escorted by plain-clothed police officers after spending a night in the notorious Boossa detention centre.

The complex has earned

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