UNHCR calls for proper safeguards for children being returned to Malaysia by Australia

Briefing Notes, 3 June 2011

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 3 June 2011, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In Australia, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen was quoted in an ABC interview last night as saying Australia plans to go ahead with returns of unaccompanied minors to Malaysia under a wider bilateral agreement between the two countries on handling asylum cases.

While a draft MoU between Malaysia and Australia has been shared with UNHCR, last night's announcement is not something that we were informed about in advance.

We are not able to lend our support to the text as it currently stands because of the absence of the operating protection safeguards we have been calling for.

UNHCR has always stipulated that one of our specific requirements with regard to the transfers is that protection safeguards are in place to protect vulnerable groups, especially unaccompanied children.

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