Australian Gov failing in its duty to asylum seekers

19th Nov 2012

The Australian Lawyers Alliance has labelled as ‘abysmal’ the Australian government’s failure to ensure 14 asylum seekers, facing rioting charges in a Nauru court, are given proper legal representation.

The case against the 14 men, who each face three rioting charges carrying potential jail sentences of between two and seven years, have now been delayed after their court-appointed representative was found to be unqualified as a lawyer.

"The Australian government has a duty to ensure that anyone facing charges for breaking Australian law is given competent legal representation. Obviously, someone who is not qualified as a lawyer does not meet that standard,” Australian Lawyers Alliance National President, Anthony Kerin, said.

“The fact that this has happened in a remote location, with reduced ability for public scrutiny is deeply concerning,” Mr Kerin said.

“The Australian government must ensure these people get representation from lawyers that are capable and independent of Australian government policies,” he said.

“It is Australia’s draconian asylum seeker policies that have landed this group of 14 men on Nauru; and it is Australian government policies that have resulted in asylum seekers being detained in sub-standard and inhumane conditions.

"The Australian government has an on obligation to ensure that these men get a fair hearing of their cases. This means the Australian government should fund their representation. It should ensure that these men are represented by competent counsel,” Mr Kerin said.

Tags: Asylum seekers and refugees Access to justice