Malcolm Turnbull's claim that his planned ban on refugees processed offshore from ever visiting Australia does not breach international law has been challenged by the United Nation's refugee agency.
The agency's regional representative, Thomas Albrecht, has told Fairfax Media the ban appeared to be in breach of Article 31 of the Refugee Convention, which prohibits refugees being penalised for seeking protection in an irregular manner.
The Government's plan to never allow asylum seekers who come by boat to settle in Australia has drawn fire from several fronts, but the PM is sticking by the hard line. Courtesy ABC News 24.
The Prime Minister has challenged Labor to back the ban when Parliament resumes on Monday, though neither the opposition nor the UNHCR has yet been shown the draft legislation. Labor leader Bill Shorten has labelled the ban "ridiculous".
Pressed on whether the ban was in breach of Article 31 of the convention, Mr Turnbull has said: "We have taken legal advice and we are satisfied it is within power and consistent with our international obligations."
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Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has argued the ban is necessary to prevent any refugees resettled from Manus Island or Nauru from entering Australia "through the back door on some tourist visa".
An announcement on where and when the refugees will be resettled is expected soon, possibly in the next fortnight, with the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Malaysia considered likely to share the caseload.
But Mr Albrecht has rejected any notion that the resettlement of those who have spent more than three years on Manus and Nauru justifies the imposition of the lifetime ban.
"While solutions for refugees currently on Nauru and Papua New Guinea are critical, third-country settlement for them would not alter Australia's fundamental obligations to provide asylum to those who need and seek its protection, including by sea," he said.
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