27 Nov 2013

UNHCR says clear legal framework vital to protect Australian asylum seekers

6:46 pm on 27 November 2013

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is a very clear legal framework is needed to protect the asylum seekers held in Australian run camps on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

The UNHCR has issued reports on both locations saying the men, women and children in the camps are suffering from harsh physical conditions and legal shortcomings.

The Pacific's regional representative for the UNHCR, Richard Towle, says a transparent legal framework is essential.

He says if innocent people seeking protection are going to be deprived of their liberty the legal basis for that has to be very clear.

"What procedures are going to be brought to them and what their rights and entitlements are. And we are concerned that in Papua New Guinea particularly there isn't an independent oversight mechanism at all in place to shed light on how these arrangements are being implemented. There is an ad hoc body that exists in Nauru that does some very very good work but that needs to be institutionalised."

Richard Towle of the UNHCR