Law Council welcomes reports of asylum-seeking children set to leave Nauru

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The Law Council of Australia responded positively to reports that all asylum-seeking children will be removed from Nauru by year’s end, while urging the Australian government to ensure that families are kept together.

The conditions at the refugee processing centre in Nauru has been criticised by several international institutions, according to a recent report from the Refugee Council of Australia. “Experts are saying that the people transferred to Nauru by Australia are among the most traumatised they have seen, even more traumatised than those in war zones or in refugee camps around the world,” said the report.

For its part, the Law Council welcomed the possibility that asylum-seeking children will be relocated to Australia.

“Reports today, including comments by the former Attorney-General George Brandis, that all asylum seeker children on Nauru will be relocated to Australia by the end of the year is certainly welcome, if long overdue,” said Morry Bailes, president of the Law Council of Australia. “As part of this process, we urge the government to move the children with their families, to minimise the risk of further dislocation and trauma. The legal profession has been voicing its concerns alongside those in the medical profession, and the wider Australian community, over the welfare of refugee and asylum seeker children held on Nauru. Removing asylum seeker children from Nauru is not just medically necessary, it is also consistent with Australia’s obligations under domestic and international law.”

Bailes said that the next steps involve developing a long-term plan for handling irregular migration and crafting solutions for adult refugees and asylum seekers.