Australia’s islands of shame

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Australia   Prime Minister Tony Abbott, has been teetering on his government’s proverbial plank of Immigration policy since of late. In a politically flinty speech he says that Australia was a country built on immigration and was “much the richer for it”.

Scathing revelations of Human Rights abuses at  Manus Island  where manu asylum seekers are detained seem to punctuate right through that rhetoric, challenging the country’s draconian immigration policy.

UN Report
In a report delivered to the UN human  rights  council last month, the UN  special  rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez cited that Australia was violating the international Convention Against Torture by detaining children in detention centres and holding asylum seekers in dangerous and violent conditions on Manus Island.

The report was vehemently dismissed by Prime Minister Abbott who claimed the process by which Mendez gathered information was ‘bizarre’.

“It seems that the UN rapporteur didn’t even bother getting a proper response from the Australian government; went to the usual suspects, the usual human rights activists, accepted everything that they said as gospel truth and now we’ve got what is supposed to be a reputable body criticising the Australian government for doing the right thing.” Abbott had said.

The report which proves otherwise is a précis of Mendez’s understanding of the situation based on the responses he had received. Most times, those responses which were elicited from the Australian government failed to ‘sufficiently address the concerns, legal obligations, and questions raised in the initial communication’. Mendez also addressed the detention and proposed deportation of two groups of Sri Lankan and Tamil asylum seekers citing that it was a breach of Australia’s international obligations.

Minister Abbott however said the UN should have given his Government credit for stopping boats making dangerous journeys to Australia.
“I really think Australians are sick of being lectured to by the United Nations, particularly given that we have stopped the boats,” he had said.

Amnesty Report
Meanwhile  Amnesty International in its annual report also went on to state that Australia’s approach to illegal immigrants issue specifically labeling the offshore processing of asylum seekers and detention of children as ‘inhumane and degrading’.

Claire Mallinson, Amnesty’s Australian national director was quoted as saying that Australia’s approach to asylum seekers was shamefully inadequate.
“The very fact that we’re detaining children indefinitely, I mean they’ve been there now for over 400 days on average,” She had said. “No other country in the world is treating children who are vulnerable, who have fled terror and torture in this way, it is bringing Australia international shame and Amnesty International is urgently calling for the release of all children including those who are on Nauru.”

Most of the asylum seekers on Manus are Sri Lankans and Iranians. Nauru on the other hand has illegal immigrants from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan as well as Iraq and Iran.

Meanwhile Prime Minster Ranil Wickremesinghe says Canberra had vowed to stay silent on alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka in exchange for cooperation on preventing asylum seeker boats from heading to Australia.

He was reported to have said that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had agreed last year to help stop boats with asylum seekers from entering Australia if Canberra remained silent over the alleged Human Rights abuses.

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