20 Apr 2007

Human Rights Watch says US/Australian refugee swap deal is against international law

2:08 pm on 20 April 2007

The group Human Rights Watch says an agreement between the United States and Australia to swap refugees held in offshore detention centres breaks international law.

US-based rights group says refugees are human beings, not products that countries can broker and trade.

The new deal allows for refugees held by Australia on Nauru to be sent ot the US while Australia will take some of those held by the US at its naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The Australian government now says it will not request that its refugee exchange deal with the United States be made formal.

On Wednesday, the US State Department said the agreement was not legally binding, and detainees referred for resettlement under the deal would not be obliged to go.