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Home » , , , , » High Court should test asylum options - UN

High Court should test asylum options - UN

Written By Voice Of Baptist Papua on September 2, 2011 | 4:27 AM

ANY plan to send asylum seekers offshore should be tested by the High Court of Australia, the regional head of the UN's refugee agency says.
UNHCR regional representative Richard Towle said the agency was always uncomfortable with the idea of a convention state sending people to another country that didn't have the capacity, expertise or experience to deal with refugees.
Mr Towle said this was true of the Pacific Solution under the coalition and Labor's Malaysia solution, which was ruled illegal by the High Court of Australia on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has not ruled out sending asylum seekers to Nauru, which was used by the Howard government as part of the Pacific Solution and had been negotiating with Papua New Guinea over the use of Manus Island.
Ms Gillard was critical of the High Court's decision, making plain her disdain at the decision of the court and Chief Justice Robert French.

Whatever policy approach is next taken by the Gillard government should be tested by the High Court, Mr Towle said.
"I think any question of transfer to another country should be put through the lens of the Australian High Court," he said.
Mr Towle said he had serious concerns about PNG's ability to deal with refugees and meet the standards required to meet the High Court's safeguards.
He said he could not comment on the readiness of Nauru, which is now a signatory to the UN refugee convention, at the moment because it had not been "a live issue".
"In principle they have joined the family of convention states," Mr Towle told ABC Television.
"I don't believe as of today they have any capacity to undertake refugee status determination or the various obligations they have under the convention at all, so the question of their competence and capacity would be the first thing to look at."
The key to stemming the flow of asylum seekers to Australia was to improve conditions for refugees regionally, Mr Towle said.
"The key for us is a real concerted effort to improve protection in South-East Asia, not find more and more creative ways of moving people from Australia into the Pacific under Australia's responsibility," he said.
The High Court decision provided clarity, certainty and a legal framework for policy issues, Mr Towle said, adding the agency would assess any arrangements by the government as they became available.
"These are very complex issues and the devil lies in the detail."
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