18 Apr 2007

Australia US refugee exchange pact part of flawed process, says Refugee Council

7:39 pm on 18 April 2007

82 Sri Lankan and 8 Burmese asylum seekers held on Nauru could be resettled in the United States under a new agreement between Australia and the US.

Under the refugee exchange programme signed in Washington last week, Australia and the US will each resettle up to 200 refugees processed in the other country every year.

The programme would see asylum seekers detained on Australia's offshore processing centres resettled in the US - and mainly Cuban refugees held by the US at Guantanamo Bay brought to Australia.

The president of Australia's Refugee Council, John Gibson, says the new agreement is another flawed development of Canberra's Pacific Solution.

"It assumes that there is a proper process of refugee determination on Nauru, and we know the difficulty of getting legal representation so people can put their claims, in the case of the 82 Sri Lankans. What it does mean ultimately is that at least there is a country of resettlement that will take them, in the case of America but there's a deal, a quid pro quo, to get both governments out of a diffcult situation."