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Last Updated: Friday, 7 November, 2003, 16:34 GMT
Australian asylum ruling backed
A refugees' boat
Australia now uses its navy to hunt for illegal immigrants
The Australian parliament has rejected an attempt to allow 14 boat people to land in Australia and seek asylum.

The people, said to be Turkish Kurds, are spending their third day under naval guard off the Australian coast.

Earlier this week, Canberra excised hundreds of offshore islands from its migration zone to prevent groups like this one from lodging asylum claims.

Australia's policies towards asylum seekers who arrive illegally are among the toughest in the developed world.

However, Canberra offers thousands of annual resettlement places to people recognised as genuine refugees elsewhere.

'Pacific solution'

Australia's upper house of parliament, the Senate, rejected the attempt by the Green Party to have the new law overturned.

A sinking refugees' boat
The refugees' rickety boats often do not last the course

It was introduced earlier this week after the 14 boat people tried to land on Melville Island.

The law now makes it impossible for refugees to apply for asylum if they land on Australia's northern islands.

This is one of the first groups of boat people to arrive off Australia since Canberra introduced the so-called Pacific Solution in 2001.

Under this system, it sent arriving asylum seekers to neighbouring Pacific states to have their claims processed.

Model to follow?

Some Western European politicians have cited Australian policies as a possible model for the future.

The British Government recently suggested processing asylum claims in protection zones outside the European Union, while Britain's opposition Conservative Party suggested processing claims on a "faraway" island.

A number of other European countries have negotiated agreements declaring their neighbours "safe third countries", making it extremely difficult for people arriving from those countries to claim asylum.

The BBC's Pam O'Toole says new regulations in Austria mean that many asylum seekers will not be allowed to stay on Austrian soil while their appeals are heard.

Refugee groups are concerned that increasingly restrictive practices in Europe are already influencing the EU as it struggles to harmonise its asylum procedures.

They say it means that Europe as a whole will become even less welcoming to asylum seekers.

Australia intercepts boat people
02 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific
In search of the 'Australian dream'
20 Jun 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Australia's Pacific Solution
26 Sep 02  |  Correspondent

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