Asylum seeker 'fast-track' could breach human rights

PLANS to fast-track decisions on almost 30,000 asylum seekers who have been held in Australia's detention centres for more than two years could breach the nation's human obligations.

That was the message Professor Gillian Triggs, the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, gave a Senate hearing examining an Abbott government bill.

The bill would reintroduce Howard Government-era temporary protection visas, in an effort to decide the fate of thousands of asylum seekers faster than the current process.

There have been huge delays in processing their refugee claims during the current and former governments.

Prof Triggs said there was a need to properly assess the claims, as most had been held in detention for more than two years straight, but the bill to "fast-track" those assessments could breach Australia's international human rights obligations.

She said the creation of a new process, circumventing the Refugee Tribunal, would put the asylum seekers at risk of not being given a fair opportunity to properly argue their case.

Several other witnesses, including the Law Council of Australia, said the proposed legislation would breach numerous international obligations, and in some instances specifically removed any need for the government to assess ministerial decisions against the human rights convention.