12 Nov 2010

Court backs Australian migrant unfairness claim

5:37 am on 12 November 2010

Australia's High Court has backed migrant claims of unfair laws, in a ruling that has far-reaching implications for asylum policy.

Two Sri Lankan men, who arrived by boat last year and were held on Christmas Island, had argued that laws barring them from appeal in Australian courts were unfair.

The court ruled unanimously that they had been denied "procedural fairness" under the Migration Act because of where they were held.

Successive governments have held refugee claimants in offshore detention - on Christmas Island and before that in Nauru - and barred access to appeal if their claims for asylum were denied.

The ruling could force the Australian government to review its policy of offshore processing for asylum seekers, the BBC reports.