Australia 'out of step' on asylum seeker issue

Rights group accuses minister of having his ‘head in the sand’ for suggesting dragging out ‘institutionalized abuse’

Australia 'out of step' on asylum seeker issue

World Bulletin / News Desk

Amnesty International has taken Australia’s immigration minister to task over his statement that the processing of asylum seekers on the Pacific island of Nauru -- currently under a cloud due to allegations of abuse, self-harm and suicide -- will “continue for decades”.

“Dragging out for decades the institutionalized abuse of over a thousand men, women and children trapped on Nauru who are asking for Australia’s protection is an outlandish and appalling suggestion,” Amnesty International Australia’s refugee campaigner, Ming Yu Hah, said.

The statement was issued Friday in response to an address by Minister Peter Dutton on Thursday night in which he spoke proudly of Australia’s off-shore processing detention regime.

Yu Hah said that Dutton’s comments show “he has his head in the sand about the future of Australia’s offshore processing system” and “just how far out of step he is with global political reality”.

In his address at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra, Dutton referred to Australia as a “migration super power” that had secure borders and provided for people “in a humane way”.

He also described the country as having established “one of the most successful modern day migration programs anywhere in the world”.

Dutton delivered his address barely one month after Papua New Guinea (PNG) announced that it intends to close Australia’s other offshore processing center on Manus Island.

A decision by the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court in April ruled that Australia's detention of asylum seekers on Manus is illegal and contrary to PNG’s constitution.

In August, PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill issued a statement confirming "both Papua New Guinea and Australia are in agreement that the [asylum seeker processing] centre is to be closed".

Amnesty’s Yu Hah underlined that the Australian government’s refugee policies are facing global scrutiny.

“In the last 12 months, countries worldwide are increasingly learning, with disgust, the systematic and secretive abuse by the Australian Government of people seeking asylum.  In a review of Australia’s conduct towards refugees last November, dozens of governments noted different types of mistreatment,” she said.

“Last month, media outlets in over 70 countries reported on Amnesty International’s findings of its investigation of Australia’s abusive system warehousing over a thousand people on Nauru.”

On Tuesday, Obama will host a Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis at the United Nations in New York.

Amnesty reports that Obama has invited key leaders to agree on innovative, visionary and practical ways forward to address the global refugee situation.

Dutton, along with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, will be attending the summit.

In a statement released late Friday from the Prime Minister’s office, Turnbull referenced the forthcoming summit on refugees and migration and insisted that Australia “has a positive story to tell”.

“Our secure borders enable one of the most generous humanitarian programs in the world. Border security is an essential ingredient to a more orderly and effective response to refugees, and to eliminating incentives for transnational criminals that traffic for money and people,” he said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Eylül 2016, 15:33