18 Mar 2005

Australia rules out amnesty for Nauru asylum seekers

2:13 pm on 18 March 2005

Australia appears to have ruled out the possibility of an amnesty for any of the remaining 54 asylum seekers at its Offshore processing Centre on Nauru.

The 54 people on Nauru, who Australia says are not detainees, comprise 29 Afghans, 20 Iraqis, two from Bangladesh, two from Iran, and one Pakistani.

Australia's Department of Immigration, or Dimia, says those still on Nauru are failed asylum seekers who've had claims for refugee protection examined three times, without success.

It says complementary forms of protection -- sought by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees -- are not written into the UN Refugee Convention.

And it says no decision has been made to offer complementary protection to those remaining on Nauru who are not refugees.

The department says 473 people at the Nauru centre have already returned either to their home country or another where they have right of entry.

It says there's no active consideration being given at the moment to involuntary returns of Afghans or Iraqis.

Any decisions on involuntary returns would need to be made by the Nauru Government.