Australian refugee plan criticised by human rights groups
A panel of experts set up to advise the Australian government how to deal with refugees who arrive by boat has recommended they be processed offshore in a third country, prompting condemnation from legal and human rights groups.
The panel recommended refugees be sent to the Pacific island of Nauru and to Papua New Guinea's Manus Island for processing as a disincentive to others considering undertaking the dangerous voyage to Australia.
"We recommend a policy approach that is hard-headed but not hard-hearted. That is realistic not idealistic. That is driven by a sense of humanity as well as fairness," said the panel's chair, retired Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston.
The panel recommended that the changes to asylum policy be part of a "comprehensive regional framework", which could later include Malaysia, provided that safeguards and accountability measures governing the current agreement with Kuala Lumpur could be strengthened.