Australia upholds Nauru decision to reject 3 refugee claims

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia's highest court on Wednesday rejected the refugee claims of two Pakistani and a Nepalese asylum seeker because they could find somewhere safe in their homelands to live.

The High Court unanimously upheld the decisions of the Supreme Court of Nauru, where the asylum seekers have lived since 2013.

The three men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are among the last to bring to Australia their challenges to Nauru court decisions. The High Court has not been able to hear Nauru appeals since March 13, after the tiny Pacific atoll ended an agreement that had given Australia oversight of its court rulings since 1976.

A Pakistani man from Peshawar had told the courts he feared being persecuted by the Taliban if he returned to Pakistan's sixth largest city.

The court found while there was a real possibility he would be harmed in Peshawar, he could move elsewhere in Pakistan.

The other Pakistani was from Sialkot but had lived most of his life in Karachi, where the militant political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement is headquartered. He feared the party would harm him because he had injured one of its senior members.

The court found that he could live in Pakistan's Punjab province, where the party had no power or influence.

A leader of a pro-monarchy group from Pakhu in Nepal said local Maoist groups had burnt his house down because of his political views.

The court found that in each case the persecution was not condoned or tolerated by the state, so the men could relocate within their countries to avoid it.

Australia refuses to resettle refugees who attempt to reach its shores by boat. It pays Nauru and the Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea to keep them in immigration camps that have been widely criticized by rights groups.

The United States has agreed to accept up to 1,250 refugees from Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Rights groups have been critical of Nauru's decision to severe its legal ties with its former colonial master. They argue Nauru was attempting to avoid outside scrutiny by depriving its own 10,000 citizens as well as the asylum seekers of the appeal option.

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