Thursday, April 20, 2006

UN Concerned About New Asylum Measures in Australia

Voice of America reports "the U.N. refugee agency is expressing concern about proposed new measures by the Australian government to tighten its border control to deal with new boat arrivals. Under the proposed new legislation, it says all people arriving by boat would be transferred offshore to have their asylum claims processed.

The U.N. refugee agency says it has not seen the proposed legislation, but says a press statement from Australia's immigration ministry outlining the main aspects of the new policy raises many concerns.

UNHCR Spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis says under the new legislation anyone arriving by boat on the mainland or in the so-called offshore excised area would have his or her asylum claim processed offshore...Pagonis says not knowing how the offshore processing procedure would be handled is of particular concern.

She says if it is not done in conformity with the 1951 Refugee Convention, asylum seekers arriving by boat might not get a fair hearing. And some genuine refugees might not get the international protection to which they are entitled. She says the asylum seeker might be penalized for entering the country illegally."

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