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Australia to accept Cuban aslyum seekers held at Guantanamo Bay

[JURIST] Australia confirmed Monday that it will accept three Cuban asylum seekers currently held at the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] Migrations Operation Center. The center, utilized [CIP report] by the US military after the recent Haitian earthquake [JURIST news archive] to house mainly Haitian asylum seekers, is not affiliated with the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Upon the announcement, Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Evans [official profile], denied [Australian report] any connection between Australia's acceptance of the Cuban asylum seekers and US acceptance of Tamil [JURIST news archive] asylum seekers intercepted by the Australian Customs Service [official website] in October and denied [press release] entrance into Australia. All 78 asylum seekers aboard an Australian Customs Service vessel have been declared refugees [Radio Australia report] by the UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHRC) [official website]. The Australian government has been actively seeking resettlement [ABC report] of the refugees in countries other than Australia.

Australia has been criticized for its Immigration Detention Policy [HREOC backgrounder], which requires any non-citizen seeking entrance into Australia to be detained. In 2006, the High Court of Australia [official website] held [JURIST report] that a "holder of a temporary protection visa is not entitled to further protection in Australia if they are no longer in danger in the country from which they fled" and that the person may not remain a refugee. The UNHCR criticized [JURIST report] Australia for its strict policy of detaining illegal immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. A representative of the UNHCR said that detention of asylum seekers and refugees is inherently undesirable and should only be used while authorities checked identities, where travel and identification papers had been lost or destroyed, or to protect public security.

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