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2011 Media Release: High Court reinforces responsibility to protect the rights of children

Children's Children's Rights

The Australian Human Rights Commission welcomes today’s High Court decision particularly regarding unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Australia.

The Commission was granted leave to intervene in the matter in relation to an unaccompanied child, plaintiff M106/2011.

Commission President Catherine Branson QC said that she welcomed the findings that the Minister as the children’s guardian must give written consent before an unaccompanied child leaves Australia and that any decision to give that consent is subject to judicial review.

“The Minister, as the child’s guardian, will have to consider the best interests of the child before providing consent” Ms Branson said.

“It is not easy to imagine a case where it will be in the best interests of an unaccompanied minor to be sent offshore to have their asylum claims processed rather than processing their claims here in Australia”.

“It is also an important development that the decision has affirmed that any decision to grant consent would be able to be reviewed by a court,” Ms Branson said.

Ms Branson also welcomes the end to the Malaysian agreement resulting from today’s decision, but has cautioned the government against rushing towards alternative solutions.

Ms Branson said that while the Commission welcomed the Australian Government’s agreement to accept an additional 4000 refugees from Malaysia over the next four years, she held serious concerns about the human rights implications of transferring asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat to third countries for processing of their claims for asylum.

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Media contact: Neena Mairata (02) 9284 9862 or 0419 258 597