Asia-Pacific August News Roundup

This is a compilation of the tweets by the Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator of the International Detention Coalition. For live updates, follow @IDCAsiaPacific


Regional: In May this year, over 5000 refugees and migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh found themselves stranded on the Andaman Sea. The UNHCR Tracks  project sees survivors talking about their ordeal.

The Diplomat’s series «Southeast Asia: Refugees in Crisis» is a fantastic resource created by scholars and practitioners to explore the complex dimensions of the region’s refugee crisis.

Papua New Guinea: Supreme Court halts asylum seeker deportations.

Ben Lomai, a lawyer who brought the application before the court, has called the injunction a “positive first step”. Lomai is representing over 300 asylum seekers currently being held in the the Australian-run detention centre on PNG’s Manus Island, and is challenging their detention on the basis that it is unconstitutional.

Watch this fantastic trailer for Nowhere Line, an award-winning animated documentary about life on PNG’s Manus Island.

nowhere line aus august

Nowhere Line: Voices from Manus Island

Australia: Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs calls for a royal commission into detention centres. Triggs has slammed as «extremely troubling» that Transfield Services, the firm who currently run Australia’s offshore detention centres, has had their contact renewed by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection for 5 more years.

The announcement that Transfield remains the Government’s preferred tender to run the detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island, came on the same day as the Senate Select Committee’s report on conditions and allegations of sexual assault in the Nauru detention centre, was released. The report found conditions were «not adequate, appropriate or safe» for asylum seekers. The Australian Greens have called for Transfield Services and Wilson Security to be «disqualified» from providing welfare and security services at the Nauru centre.

There is no room, given the overwhelming evidence, to deny the incredibly harmful conditions; systemic abuses of human rights and the exorbitant costs of Australia’s immigration detention system. The following pieces provide some context for the argument – there are alternatives to detention:

«Australia’s offshore immigration detention system is intolerable.» Using offshore detention as a deterrent does not work, and should end.

«Offshore detention ‘black sites’ open door to torture». Operating outside of effective state jurisdiction, Australia’s offshore detention network is looking remarkably similar to the US War on Terror ‘black sites’, and we should be extremely concerned about that.

Cambodia: «We don’t have any plans to import more refugees from Nauru to Cambodia», Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak told the Cambodia Daily. Australia’s $55 million operation to resettle hundreds of refugees from the Pacific island of Nauru to Cambodia appears to have collapsed in a diplomatic embarrassment for the Abbott Government.

Since the controversial agreement between the Australian and Cambodian governments was made late last year, only 4 refugees from Nauru have been resettled in Cambodia. The $40 million aid allocation from the Australian Government to Cambodia is not dependent on the number of refugees taken in.

When the Cambodian deal was signed it was condemned by the United Nations, who described it as “a worrying departure from international norms” and said Australia was shirking its responsibility towards people fleeing persecution.