16 Sep 2004

Australian Government accused of pressuring ayslum seekers to return home

8:21 pm on 16 September 2004

The Australian Federal Government has been accused of threatening to forcibly return asylum seekers being held in Nauru to their home countries.

The news agency, AAP, reports that the accusation came as the government revealed it had stepped up efforts to encourage detainees being held on the Pacific island to head home.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre coordinator, Pamela Curr, says government officials have told asylum seekers they would be tied up and forcibly deported if they refused to accept the government's voluntary repatriation offer.

Australia has offered the asylum 2,000 Australian dollars if they return home.

An immigration department spokesman labelled the claims as nonsense.

But he says two people, a Pakistani national and a Bangladeshi national who are currently in Nauru and have been found not to be refugees, have been urged to return home voluntarily and voluntary removal would entitle them to the government's repatriation package.