Immigration Minister Chris Bowen
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen Inga Williams

First asylum seekers arrive in Nauru

THE first group of 30 asylum seekers since offshore processing was reopened arrived in Nauru on Friday.

Some 30 single adult Sri Lankans were flown from temporary lodgings at Christmas Island to the tent city on Nauru - the first group since the Houston Panel recommended re-opening the facility a month ago.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the flight had occurred without incident and the transfer showed it was clear that illegal boat arrivals could be taken by plane for processing in another country.

But Mr Bowen would not give a timeframe on how long the men could be waiting for immigration to complete all the necessary checks, saying he did not want to provide a "how-to guide" to people smugglers.

The transfer came as the total boat arrivals for the year exceeded 10,000 and Border Protection intercepted another vessel carrying 148 asylum seekers and three crew members on Thursday night.

While Mr Bowen said the 30 Sri Lankans' human rights would be protected on Nauru, Human Rights Commission President Professor Gillian Triggs voiced her concerns for their welfare.

Prof Triggs said it was still unclear how the new processing arrangement would work in practice.

"There is no information as to how prepared Nauru is to process the claims and it is unclear whether those transferred to Nauru will have access to legal advice," she said.

"And, of course, the question still remains as to whether or not Nauru is able to provide effective protection to asylum seekers transferred there."


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