1 Apr 2011

Framework agreement against smugglers signed

2:00 pm on 1 April 2011

Ministers from around the Asia-Pacific region have signed a non-binding framework agreement to tackle smuggling networks and humanely process the large numbers of migrants moving through the region.

They were meeting in Bali for a people smuggling conference.

However, a proposal by the Australian government to establish a processing centre in East Timor appears to have stalled.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says the chances of building a processing centre like the one the Government wants is unlikely.

UNHCR assistant commissioner Erika Feller says the proposal has not been explored with East Timor.

The ABC reports that East Timor says it is not interested in the plan.

Before the election last year, Australian prime minister Julia Gillard said the East Timor centre would undermine people smugglers.

But the UNHCR says if a centre is ever built, it is unlikely to be used to process everyone who arrives by boat at Christmas Island.