Australia’s deportation of asylum seekers could breach international law says UNHCR

unSpeaking at the noon briefing on Monday, 7 July 2014, Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman For Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that the United Nations Refugee agency (UNHCR), expressed deep concern over Australia’s announcement that it had returned 41 asylum seekers to Sri Lankan authorities.


  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is deeply concerned by Australia’s announcement today that it has returned some 41 asylum-seekers to Sri Lanka after having intercepted them at sea.
  • The Agency says it understands that “enhanced screening procedures” were used as a basis for determining whether these 41 individuals raised claims for protection which required further consideration. Without further information, the Agency says it cannot confirm whether they were in accordance with international law.
  • The Agency has previously made known its concerns to Australia about its enhanced screening procedures and their non-compliance with international law.
  • It says that it does not object to the returns of persons properly found not to be in need of international protection, but it considers anyone claiming asylum has a right to have their case properly assessed by qualified personnel in accordance with the necessary procedural and legal safeguards.
  • The Agency also expressed its concern over the fate of a further 153 asylum-seekers of Sri Lankan origin who are now subject to an Australian High Court injunction on their return.

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