UN committee says Australia must release refugees

GENEVA (AP) — A U.N. committee says Australia has violated the human rights of 46 refugees from Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Kuwait by holding them in detention for more than two years and refusing to provide them with visas.

The U.N.’s Human Rights Committee says it based its conclusions on complaints filed by 42 Tamils from Sri Lanka, three Rohingya from Myanmar and a Kuwaiti, who were unable to challenge their detention in Australian courts.

The Geneva-based body said in a statement Thursday that the 46 refugees suffered “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment and were illegally held in arbitrary detention.

Australian authorities called the refugees a security risk, but released seven who filed complaints in 2011 and 2012.

The U.N. committee urged the release of another 39 refugees held for at least two and a half years.

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