Immigration

Dutton hasn't had a briefing on the Costa Rica refugee deal in almost eight months

An update on the Turnbull government’s deal to resettle people from Costa Rican refugee camps shows the Immigration Minister has not been given a briefing on the plans since April.

It has been almost 15 months since Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull revealed the plan at a United Nations summit hosted by then US President Barack Obama in New York last year.

Very little detail has been provided since but newly released documents from budget estimates in October reveal the last briefing by the Immigration Department to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on the matter was on April 27.

The documents also confirm no one has been resettled yet as part of the deal and Australia has not agreed to accept a specific number of people overall.

The Immigration Minister has declined SBS News' requests for comment but did speak briefly on the issue in Canberra last week.

“Obviously we’re working with the United States and we’re looking at individual cases and at some stage I’ll make a statement around that,” Minister Dutton told reporters.

“We’ve entered into that agreement, we’ve spoken with the United States about a number of cases and I don’t have any further comment to make.”

The refugee deal involves Australia accepting people from camps in Costa Rica who have fled violence-plagued countries in the so-called ‘Northern triangle’ including Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Nearly 10 per cent of the 30 million residents there have fled across the border because of extortion, rape and forced gang recruitment following decades of civil war and conflict.

Refugee Council of Australia President, Phil Glendenning, told SBS News the Costa Rica deal has been handled with a great deal of secrecy.

“I think the time has come for people to know what’s happening,” Mr Glendenning said.

The Turnbull government has long denied the deal is a ‘people swap’ in return for the United States taking asylum seekers from Manus Island and Nauru.

More than 50 people have already been resettled in the United States under the deal.

 

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch