April 24, 2013
Assylum seekers on Nauru. Picture: Clint Deidenang Source: The Daily Telegraph
AUTHORITIES have intercepted two more suspected asylum seeker boats with 175 people on board.
The first, with 107 passengers, was spotted near Cocos (Keeling) Island and the other with 65 aboard was intercepted northeast of Darwin.
The passengers will soon be transferred to Australian government facilities for security and health checks.
Under current laws, asylum seekers intercepted near the Ashmore Islands, Cartier Island, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands risk being sent to offshore processing centres, while asylum seekers who reach the Australian mainland have to be processed onshore.
The federal government is seeking to remove this legal loophole with legislation currently before the Senate. If passed, the laws will excise the Australian mainland from the migration zone.
More than 15,000 people have arrived by boat since Labor reintroduced offshore processing in August 2012.
Earlier today it emerged the offshore processing on Nauru will face a legal challenge in the Pacific island nation’s Supreme Court.
The case involves 10 asylum seekers who are facing rioting and wilful damage charges.
Australian-based barrister Jay Williams, who is representing the detainees, told a Nauruan magistrates court on today he had been refused access to the centre by Australia’s immigration department.
He said he needed more resources to mount a proper defence as he was prevented from interviewing his clients, according to a statement from Nauru’s government.
“The magistrate agreed that access refusal appeared to be in contravention of the defendants’ constitutional rights and he would seek further information from the Supreme Court on the matter,” the statement said.
Mr Williams’ constitutional challenge, if successful, could have implications for the future of the Australian-run centre.
The detainee’s had their bail extended until June 17 for the riot charges, while Nauru’s Supreme Court will hear the constitutional challenge on June 7.
Comment has been sought from the immigration department.