The Australian government's top legal adviser has told the Australian Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs she cannot visit Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea
Professor Triggs wanted to assess and act on complaints from asylum seekers about conditions on the islands.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that she was told by the Solicitor-General that she had no jurisdictional power on Manus Island and Nauru to hear the complaints.
Professor Triggs' office says it is still seeking further information about the implications of the legal advice.
The camps have been set up by Canberra in a bid to deter boatpeople from Asia trying to reach Australia.
The conditions in the camps have been stronly criticised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.