2 December 2014
ACOSS today applauded the UN Committee against Torture’s clear findings against Australia’s treatment of people seeking asylum and refugees.
The Committee found major breaches of our international obligations and calls for Australia to repeal mandatory detention laws. It urges the Government to increase oversight of Manus Island and Nauru detention centres, to ensure that asylum seekers and refugees are treated more humanely, and their claims are promptly and properly assessed.
“The report makes it clear that the international community is deeply troubled by Australia’s treatment of people seeking asylum and those found to be refugees,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.
The Committee described Australia’s detention of refugees as ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’ forbidden by international law. The Committee expressed particular concern about Australia’s policies of intercepting and turning back boats, and transferring asylum seekers to processing centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
“The findings of the report cannot be ignored. The Government must listen to the deep concerns that its actions are illegal under international law and immediately act on the recommendations,” said Dr Goldie.
“ACOSS reaffirms its strong opposition to offshore processing and mandatory detention as it is inhumane, costly and deflects responsibility for refugee protection. Any punitive measures taken by the Government abrogates Australia’s human rights and legal responsibilities and obligations as a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention and Protocol (UNRC) the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC), and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
“The Australian government must respond to the Committee’s findings and recommendations, and commit to processing asylum claims within the Australian community.
“We urge the Government to work with the community and social services sector to develop processes which ensure asylum seekers can be placed, and assessed, with the least trauma.
“The goal should be to enable either the beginning of a new life in a safer country as efficiently as possible, or to enable people to be returned to their country of origin, if and only if it is safe to do so, where their claim for refugee status be unsuccessful,” Dr Goldie concluded.
Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas – 0419 626 155