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Australian court dismisses challenge to offshore refugee detention

Australia`s highest court Wednesday opened the way for hundreds of asylum-seekers to be transferred to a remote Pacific outpost, including women allegedly sexually assaulted there, when it dismissed a challenge to a hardline immigration policy.



Sydney: Australia`s highest court Wednesday opened the way for hundreds of asylum-seekers to be transferred to a remote Pacific outpost, including women allegedly sexually assaulted there, when it dismissed a challenge to a hardline immigration policy.

The High Court case was brought by a Bangladeshi woman who arrived on an unauthorised boat and was dispatched to the tiny island republic of Nauru before being brought to Australia for urgent medical treatment during a pregnancy.

She sought a declaration that Australia`s conduct in sending her to Nauru was unlawful in a challenge seen as a test case for more than 260 asylum-seekers, including 37 babies born in Australia and 54 other children, lawyers said.

But the High Court ruled six to one that the Australian government`s arrangements for offshore detention on Nauru did not breach Australian law.

Canberra`s hardline immigration policy ensures that asylum-seekers arriving in Australia by boat are sent to Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Even if the detainees are subsequently found to be genuine refugees they are denied resettlement in Australia -- a policy which has drawn international criticism.

The Human Rights Law Centre, which brought the case for the woman, said the mother and her husband -- with a one-year-old baby -- were now terrified of being sent back to Nauru where some 537 asylum-seekers are currently housed. A further 922 men are held on PNG`s Manus Island.

"The legality is one thing, the morality is another," said the centre`s Daniel Webb.

From Zee News

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