Canberra – The United Nations refugee agency on Tuesday expressed concern over Australia’s handling of a group of Vietnamese asylum seekers which the Australian Navy returned to Vietnam over the weekend.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson, Vivian Tan, said the group of 46 asylum seekers arrived in Australian waters by boat but, contrary to normal procedure.
Tan said that applicants for asylum, such as those in the Vietnamese group, were at risk of grave danger if they were not individually assessed in an environment where they could explain their needs.
“We are concerned that people may not have had access to proper procedures.
“We are concerned that the group was not screened and assessed in a way that is fair and effective, that somehow their lives may be at risk,’’ Tan said.
Local media reports said that the group was reportedly offloaded by the Australian Navy at the Vietnamese port city of Vung Tau last Friday.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”10″]
Report says the Australian navy routinely turns back boats carrying asylum seekers from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
However, these boats were usually returned to Indonesia, where most of the sea voyages began.
Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, has refused to confirm that the Vietnamese asylum seekers had been turned back.
Dutton cited a policy of secrecy surrounding the interception of people-smuggling boats attempting to reach Australian shores. (Xinhua/NAN)