MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti) – The Australian government is facing two court cases on Tuesday in regard to its policies toward asylum seekers, the BBC reports.
157 Tamil asylum seekers fleeing from Sri Lanka, including 50 children and a pregnant woman, spent a month on an Australian customs ship. Their lawyers contend the refugees were detained illegally, the Guardian said.
“The case will consider whether the detention was lawful and the extent of the Australian government’s powers to intercept and detain at sea”, said Human Rights Law Centre executive director Hugh de Kretser. “This case concerns fundamental issues of liberty, safety and due process.”
The group left India in June seeking asylum in Australia, but were intercepted off the coast of Australia. First, the government in Canberra wanted to deport them back to India, but while their case was being debated, the refugees were held on the customs ship, AFP said.
India has not signed the refugee convention, nor does the country have a decent record of protecting Tamils fleeing Sri Lanka, the Guardian reports.
Meanwhile in Sri Lanka, Tamils continue to face death threats and intimidation, five years after the end of the civil war, the BBC said.