18 Mar 2013

Nauru asylum seeker processing due to start this week

4:13 pm on 18 March 2013

A team from Australia is due in Nauru today to start processing asylum seekers on Wednesday.

Men from Iran, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Afghanistan are among the 400 asylum seekers at Australia's regional processing centre on the island waiting to have their claims for refugee status heard.

The Nauru government says initial interviews have already taken place.

Australia's federal government has awarded contracts to Craddock Murray Neumann Lawyers and Playfair Visa and Migration Services to help the asylum seekers with their claims.

The Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor said last week that asylum seekers on Nauru would be provided with protection and welfare arrangements consistent with Australian and Nauruan responsibilities under international law, including the refugees' convention.

But he says Australia was determined that asylum seekers on Nauru received no advantage by engaging people smugglers.