4 Jul 2014

Refugee report angers UN agency

8:21 am on 4 July 2014

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has slammed the Australian government's apparent willingness to intercept boats carrying people seeking asylum in Australia.

There are unconfirmed reports that late last month asylum seekers, possibly Tamils from Sir Lanka, were screened at sea by the Australian Navy and handed over to the Sri Lankan Navy.

Don Wiseman has more:

"The Australian government is denying the reports and the UNHCR says it does not have official confirmation. But it says any requests for protection must be consistent with rules governing refugee protection. It says individuals who seek asylum must be properly and individually screened for protection needs, in a process which they understand and in which they are able to explain their needs. The agency says if protection issues are raised, they should be properly determined through a substantive and fair process. The UNHCR says if these processes are not followed vulnerable individuals are at grave risk. For the past year Australia has been sending asylum seekers arriving by boat to camps on Nauru or Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, but very few have been sent in recent months with Canberra claiming its deterrent policy is working."