Weekly media wrap – 1 February

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton announced that a total of 15 boats containing 429 asylum seekers have been turned back since the commencement of Operation Sovereign Borders.

A group of eight former Australians of the Year used Australia Day celebrations to call for the immediate release of all refugee and asylum seeker children from immigration detention. On the same day, further arrests were made in detention compounds on Manus Island as protests continued.

The High Court handed down a judgment that Australian authorities acted legally when they intercepted a boat from India carrying 157 Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers in June 2014. The asylum seekers were detained on an Australian customs vessel for 29 days until they were brought to the Australian mainland and then transferred to Nauru. The Court found that Australian authorities had acted within the bounds of the Maritime Powers Act.

Minister Dutton said that the ruling ‘has vindicated the Government's position’. However, others have written that the decision raises concerns about the rights of asylum seekers who are detained at sea.

In international news, Kuwaiti philanthropist Shaikha Rima Al Sabah has been appointed as the UNHCR’s newest Goodwill Ambassador, while Angelina Jolie, special envoy for the UNHCR, appealed for urgent funding to assist more than 3 million displaced Iraqis and Syrians living in northern Iraq.