Australia court rules against refugee plan

2011-08-31 13:15

kalahari.com

Canberra - Australia's highest court ruled on Wednesday that asylum seekers can't be sent to Malaysia, a major blow to the government's plan to stem an influx of people from poor, war-torn countries attempting to reach Australia by boat.

The High Court reached a 6-1 majority decision to make permanent an injunction that has prevented Australia from transferring 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in return for Malaysia sending 4 000 registered refugees for resettlement. The ruling cannot be appealed.

Australia has long attracted asylum seekers hoping to start a new life, with more than 6 200 arriving by boat in 2010. Most are from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran and Iraq, and use Malaysia or Indonesia as a starting point for a dangerous sea journey to Australia.

The government had maintained that the deal struck in consultation with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, would withstand any legal challenge.

Government lawyers had argued in court that Australia could lawfully declare Malaysia a safe third country to process refugee claims even though it had no domestic or international legal obligations to protect refugees.

Obligations

The court said in a statement that Malaysia has not signed the UN Refugee Convention and the deal with Australia did not legally bind Malaysia to recognise the status of refugees under its domestic law. It said any suitable third country must have obligations under international or domestic law to protect asylum seekers and refugees.

The court also said Immigration Minister Chris Bowen had no legal power to remove from Australia asylum seekers whose refugee claims have not yet been determined. The government did not immediately comment on the ruling.

The case was brought to the court by 16 asylum seekers who were to become the first to be flown to Malaysia from the Australian territory of Christmas Island.

The government had planned to post video on social networking sites Facebook and YouTube showing the asylum seekers boarding the first chartered flight to Kuala Lumpur as a way of deterring others from coming by boat to Australia.

Malaysia has already begun sending registered refugees to Australia from among 93 000 now in that Asian nation under the deal.

The ruling came after two fires broke out on Wednesday at an immigration detention centre in northern Australia during a protest involving alleged people smugglers.

Both blazes were extinguished and no one was hurt, though there were reports some of the detainees were throwing objects at fire-fighters, an immigration department spokesperson said on customary condition of anonymity.

Unrest

Most of the people involved in the protest at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin were Indonesian crew from boats carrying asylum seekers to Australia as part of people smuggling operations, the official said. He had no further details, and would not elaborate on what sparked the unrest.

Protests at detention centres have become relatively common.

The detainees involved in the protest were upset that officials had not agreed to certain requests regarding how they could celebrate the end of Ramadan, Islam's holy month of fasting, said refugee advocate Ian Rintoul, who spoke by phone with detainees inside the centre.

The fire caused extensive damage to 20 rooms, said Rintoul, a spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. No asylum seekers were involved in the protest, he said.
- SAPA
Read more on:    australia
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
13 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Get fit on a budget

It’s time to throw the “I can’t afford to exercise” excuse out the window.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips for paddling your first Dusi
Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may prefer to be in charge because then you can call the shots. You are not as flexible as you like to make out to be and you...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.