Australian court tests legality of offshore detention for asylum seekers

Demonstrators hold a banner during a rally in support of asylum seekers in central SydneyBy Matt Siegel SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s highest court will begin considering on Wednesday whether the policy of sending asylum seekers to the tiny South Pacific nation of Nauru for long-term detention is in breach of the constitution, a major challenge to the controversial policy. The hearings at the High Court, which are scheduled to last two days, will test for the first time whether Australia has the legal right to participate in the offshore detention of asylum seekers – the backbone of its immigration policy for five years. Asylum seekers have long been a contentious political issue in Australia, although it has never received anywhere near the number of refugees currently flooding into Europe as they flee conflict in the Middle East and North Africa.

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