4 Feb 2013

UN agency wants Manus Island child transfers halted

8:29 pm on 4 February 2013

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees wants the transfer of asylum seeker children by Australia to the Manus Island detention suspended until better safeguards are in place.

The agency says there are significant shortcomings in how asylum seekers are transferred, treated and processed on PNG's Manus Island.

AAP reports UNHCR officials visited Manus for three days a fortnight ago. Their report finds that the government's current regime is inconsistent with Australia's international obligations.

In a statement, regional representative Richard Towle says mandatory detention of 34 children and their families at the centre is particularly troubling

The report called on the government to cease transferring children until all appropriate legal and administrative safeguards for their processing and treatment are in place.

Transfers to Manus Island began in November. AAP reports more than 200 asylum seekers were there when the UNHCR visited.