1 Aug 2006

Court tells Australian government to accept 43rd Papuan refugee

1:46 pm on 1 August 2006

An Australian government decision to deny a Papuan asylum seeker refugee status in Australia has been overturned by the independent Refugee Review Tribunal.

The tribunal ruled yesterday that David Wainggai, who has been detained on Christmas island since January, was owed protection by Australia under the terms of the refugee convention.

The Age newspaper reports that the judgement comes more than two months after the Immigration Department denied Mr Wainggai refuge status on the grounds that he had the right to live in Japan.

Mr Wainggai was among 43 Papuan asylum seekers who landed in Queensland in January.

The other 42 asylum seekers were determined to be refugees and were granted temporary protection visas in March.

The court decision comes after Mr Wainggai's lawyers accused the government of blocking a decision on his refugee status claim in order to advance relations with Indonesia and to deter other Papuans from seeking asylum.

The government has rejected the allegation.