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Australia unmoved by U.N. critique of asylum seeker policy

By Matt Siegel SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's immigration minister dismissed on Wednesday United Nations' criticism of its asylum seeker policy, even as fresh evidence emerged of abuses at one of its detention centers in Papua New Guinea. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison hit back after the regional representative for U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said that Australia's policy of sending asylum seekers to third countries for lengthy detention might violate its treaty obligations.

Indonesia speaks out on boatpeople amid Australia tension

Jakarta called on governments Monday to stop "shifting responsibility" for asylum-seekers, in veiled criticism of Australia's hardline policy of towing boatloads of would-be refugees back to Indonesia. The military-led operation has caused anger in Indonesia, which has been forced to take back seven boatloads of asylum-seekers turned around by the Australian navy since December.

Australian captain loses command after Indonesia incursion

An Australian naval captain has been relieved of his command after his vessel was involved in an incursion into Indonesian waters while on border protection duty, the defence ministry said Thursday. Six incursions took place during Australia's military-led Operation Sovereign Borders to deter asylum-seeker boats in December and January, leading Canberra to apologise to Jakarta and set up an inquiry.

Australia eyes Cambodia as asylum-seeker host

Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison made an unannounced visit to Cambodia on Friday, raising speculation that Phnom Penh will join Papua New Guinea and Nauru in helping resettle asylum-seekers. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said talks between Morrison and Cambodian officials represented the countries "staying in touch" as partners against people-smuggling. "Whether Cambodia were to accept people is really a matter for Cambodia, but the point is people-smuggling is a regional problem," he told reporters.

Australia axes free advice for asylum-seekers

Asylum-seekers arriving in Australia on unauthorised boats will no longer be granted free advice on immigration matters, the government said Monday. Scrapping the scheme that helped asylum-seekers complete visa applications and gave them advice on complex immigration matters is expected to save Aus$100 million (US$93 million) over four years. "From today people who arrived illegally by boat, as well as illegally by air, will no longer receive taxpayer-funded immigration advice and assistance," Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said.

Children call Australian immigration detention 'hell'

Children held in immigration detention in Australia have described conditions as "hell" with a human rights inquiry Monday detailing many banging their heads, biting themselves and wetting their beds. The Australian Human Rights Commission gained access to Australia's main detention centre for asylum-seekers on Christmas Island as part of its National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention.

Children call Australian immigration detention 'hell'

Children held in immigration detention in Australia have described conditions as "hell" with a human rights inquiry Monday detailing many banging their heads, biting themselves and wetting their beds. The Australian Human Rights Commission gained access to Australia's main detention centre for asylum-seekers on Christmas Island as part of its National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention.

Australian navy blew up asylum boat: Indonesia police

Asylum-seekers who washed ashore in Indonesia have claimed the Australian navy blew up their vessel after forcing the would-be refugees into a lifeboat and turning them back to Java, police said Wednesday. Indonesian police found the orange lifeboat and 26 asylum-seekers Monday on Java island's south coast. The would-be refugees said they were turned around attempting to reach the Australian territory of Christmas Island.

Australia returns asylum-seekers to Indonesia in lifeboat

A lifeboat carrying asylum-seekers has washed up on Indonesia's main Java island, with those on board saying Australian authorities transferred them to the vessel and turned it around, officials said Tuesday. It was the latest asylum-seeker turn-back by Canberra under its military-led operation aimed at stopping an influx of would-be refugees who board rickety boats in Indonesia and make the perilous sea crossing to Australia.

Australia returns asylum-seekers to Indonesia in lifeboat

A lifeboat carrying asylum-seekers has washed up on Indonesia's main Java island, with those on board saying Australian authorities transferred them to the vessel and turned it around, officials said Tuesday. It was the latest asylum-seeker turn-back by Canberra under its military-led operation aimed at stopping an influx of would-be refugees who board rickety boats in Indonesia and make the perilous sea crossing to Australia.
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