Immigration investigating death of Sri Lankan asylum-seeker

A SRI Lankan asylum-seeker died within hours of arriving at Christmas Island on Wednesday.

The 35-year-old's death is now the subject of an investigation, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship confirmed on Thursday.

"The department expresses its sympathy to the man's family," a department spokesman said.

"The matter has been referred to the relevant agency and the department will co-operate with any resulting investigation."

The man told officials he was unwell shortly after arriving at the Phosphate Hill processing area, and was transferred to hospital where he later died.

Counsellors have been made available to assist and support the facility's detainees and staff.

It came on the same day another group of 42 Sri Lankan asylum-seekers was flown home from Christmas Island to Colombo, taking the number of Sri Lankans returned home since August 13 last year to 1071 - 862 of them involuntarily.

The death also coincided with Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor's three-day visit to the Sri Lankan capital, where he is meeting with senior government ministers and agency officials about a range of issues including people smuggling.

Mr O'Connor has been accompanied by Department of Immigration secretary Martin Bowles, who co-chaired the inaugural meeting of the Sri Lanka- Australia Joint Working Group on People Smuggling and Transnational Crime in December last year.

The pair is seeking to strengthen ongoing co-operation with Sri Lanka on migration management.



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