24 Jul 2017

FSM court orders refugees to be freed

7:08 pm on 24 July 2017

A court in the Federated States of Micronesia has ordered the government to free four Nepalese refugees who have been detained on Pohnpei.

The court heard that Hari Timsina, Indra Ghimire, Bishnu Tamang and Khadga Bahadur Thapa had been living on the boat with a leaking hull for nearly two years under 24 hour security with limited visitation rights and without legal or consular representation over their detention.

Nepalese refugees in Micronesia

Photo: Supplied/ Denise Oen

The government maintained the conditions complied with its agreement with the UNHCR.

The court also heard the FBI had made background checks and found the men were not a security risk or danger to the public, nor were they a health risk.

Several members of the local community had expressed a desire to sponsor the refugees who also wanted to attend church and visit friends freely.

The government argued that the FSM had no laws governing the treatment of refugees, nor was it party to international treaties on the issue, but Associate Judge Beauleen Carl-Worswick said the FSM was bound by international law to protect all individuals' "inherent dignity" and "inalienable rights".

She took into account the government's concerns about crime in the area and ordered the refugees be restricted to their apartment in Palikir between the hours of 7pm and 7am.

The judge also ordered the refugees to report to the government every two weeks.

The government was also ordered to file a notice with the court if it planned to move the refugees for any reason.

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