6 Oct 2003

Australian lawyer says Nauru trial of asylum seekers was unfair

4:41 pm on 6 October 2003

An Australian lawyer, Julian Burnside QC says a trial of asylum seekers on Nauru has been unfair.

The government of Nauru says a number of asylum seekers involved in a riot last year have received 12-month good behaviour bonds as a penalty.

In a statement, Nauru says four of the accused were found not guilty but did not specify how many received the good behaviour bonds.

But Mr Burnside says he wasn't given any information to defend the detainees.

Mr Burnside says instead an unqualified pleader was assigned to the defendants, to the dissatisfaction of the detainees.

He says by not giving him information the detainees were not allowed a good defence.

"First because the administration in Nauru does not operate with the relative honesty that our systems do, second Australia has imposed immense pressure on the Nauruan government to make sure that lawyers, human rights workers and journalists don't get in contact with the detainees."

Julian Burnside, QC.