8 Feb 2014

Australian lawyers challenge legality of Nauru detentions

5:47 am on 8 February 2014

An Australian lawyer says the detention of Australia's asylum seekers on Nauru to satisfy some Australian political policy is constitutionally improper.

George Newhouse of Shine Lawyers social justice team is one of several prominent human rights lawyers who have launched a constitutional challenge in Nauru.

They say the detention of more than 1,300 people in appalling conditions on the island, in some cases, since September of 2012, is illegal.

Mr Newhouse says under the Nauru Constitution you can only be detained on immigration matters if you are about to be deported.

He says detention to satisfy Australia's so called no advantage policy is not a legitimate purpose.

"We understand that many of the asylum seekers have had their claims assessed and been found to be in need of protection but that they are not being properly processed, because of the Australian government's policies - that is quite improper. It is not proper to keep people in detention for a political reason."

George Newhouse