The United Nations Human Rights Committee has found Australia to be in breach of its obligations under international law, committing 143 human rights violations by indefinitely detaining 46 refugees for four years, on the basis of ASIO's ‘adverse security assessments’.

"The Committee's decision has confirmed what we have known all along, that the indefinite detention of refugees in Australia is not only inhumane, but highly illegal," said Graeme McGregor, Amnesty International Australia's Spokesperson.

"This policy has subjected refugees to inhuman or degrading treatment in detention, denying effective judicial remedies such as legal appeals.

"It has seen some people detained for up to five years without being given detailed information regarding their detention or when they might be released, while others have been released after years of detention with no explanation, apology or compensation."

The UN Committee has directed Australia to provide the refugees with an effective remedy, including release from detention on appropriate conditions, rehabilitation and compensation.

"We are calling on the Australian Government to bring to an end a policy that has become an international embarrassment and a stain on Australia's legal system," McGregor said.