Australian officials denied on Sunday that a policy of refusing to release information on the fate of refugees intercepted in the Indian Ocean amounted to “disappearing” people.

Senate leader Eric Abetz refused to confirm the fate of 153 Sri Lankan Tamils, but insisted that authorities treat everyone with care and respect according to international obligations.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has steadfastly refused for more than a week to reveal anything about the boat which reportedly left India on June 13.

Media reports said the refugees had been picked up by Australian authorities and were being handed to the Sri Lankan Navy.

A second boat carrying 50 people which set out from Indonesia last week was reported to be intercepted by Australian Navy, and its fate is also a mystery.

Mr. Morrison will visit Sri Lanka this week to attend a ceremony for two military patrol boats Australia has given to the Sri Lanka government. The vessels will be used to stop boats carrying refugees heading to Australia.

Canberra’s policy is to refuse any refugee boat entry to Australia.

No boat has arrived on Australian soil in the past six months.

Opinion polls report the policy is supported by around 60 per cent of Australians.

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