Asia Pacific April & May 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: UNHCR, OHCHR, IOM & SRSG for Migration and Development call for safe disembarkation and protection of Rohingya people.

South-East Asian migrant crisis: Malaysia, Indonesia to scrap policy of turning away asylum seeker boats

New HRW Report: Southeast Asia: Accounts from Rohingya Boat People

IDC member the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) has condemned the Australian Government for returning a group of 46 Vietnamese asylum seekers found at sea, back to Vietnam, expressing grave concerns for their safety. The asylum seekers are believed to be being held in a police-run detention center in a coastal province north of Ho Chi Minh City.

Given the historical precedents of detention centers operated by Vietnamese police and security personnel being used to interrogate and charge suspected political subversives, advocates are concerned that the Australian government’s actions have exposed the asylum seekers to an increased risk of persecution.

The APRRN’s statement also reiterates the need for transparency and cooperation in regional approaches to asylum seeker and refugee policies and determination processes. The Australian Government has released minimal details about the secret operation, giving rise to fears that the asylum seekers claims were assessed unlawfully, and that the group did not  have adequate access to their legal rights under international law.

April Asia Pacific Roundup pic

Australia: The findings of the Moss Review, detailing sexual abuses in the Australian- run detention centre in Nauru, inspire the formation of an expert panel and the Federal Police to investigate.

New laws give security guards greater powers to use force on detainees in immigration detention centers and exempt government liability for inappropriate use of force.

UN human rights chief “dismayed” at Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers.

The Migration Amendment (Maintaining Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill authorises the administration of “grievous bodily harm” if they “reasonably believe” it is necessary to protect life or prevent injury.

The legislation has been the subject of strong criticisms from refugee and asylum seeker advocates and human rights lawyers, who argue that the amendment does not provide adequate legal safeguards for detainees who may be victims of unreasonable force, and that it will encourage and normalise the use of excessive force in detention centers.

Royal College of Physicians calls for Australia to end ‘inhumane‘ and profoundly damaging detention of asylum seekers

Nauru: Calls for greater internet access on Nauru & repeal of new ofence that will limit free speech

Thailand: Human Rights Watch calls for Thailand to authorise independent, United Nations-assisted investigation into the trafficking of ethnic Rohingya Muslims from Burma and Bangladesh.

This renewed international spotlight on the thriving human trafficking networks that have been operating rampantly for years in southern Thailand, and the complicit role of some Thai officials in facilitating human trafficking activities in the region, comes after the discovery of mass graves of Rohingya were found by a joint military-police task force in Sadao district of Songkhla province close to the Thai-Malaysian border.

The graves mark the sites of brutally-run internment camps for asylum seekers who have been smuggled into southern Thailand’s less accessible, jungle areas, often as a point of transit before being smuggled into Malaysia. Reports from survivors and human rights organisations suggest those held in the camps have been subject to cruel treatment, torture, exploitation and a distinct lack of protection from Thai authorities.

Last year, Thailand was downgraded to the lowest tier on the U.S. State Department’s influential Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which annually ranks countries by their anti-trafficking efforts.