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UNHCR welcomes UN human rights mission to detention centre in Australia

UNHCR welcomes UN human rights mission to detention centre in Australia

The United Nations refugee agency today welcomed the news that a senior UN human rights official will visit an Australian detention centre where asylum seekers had recently staged two weeks of tense protests.

The reaction by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) followed the announcement yesterday by Mary Robinson, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, that the Australian Government had accepted her request to send a special representative to the Woomera detention centre.

A UNHCR spokesman told a press briefing in Geneva today that the refugee agency would welcome the visit by the human rights envoy, “whose mandate was complimentary to our own.”

On 1 February, Ruud Lubbers, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, issued a statement that urged Canberra to review its policy of detaining those who seek asylum in Australia. At that time, Commissioner Lubbers described the detention of asylum seekers as an additional ordeal imposed on those "who have fled persecution and … suffered torture and trauma in their countries of


Commissioner Robinson's envoy, Justice Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati, will visit the centre along with the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, between May and August of this year.