UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez released a report on immigration detention of children as a form of “ill treatment” urging all states to cease the practice.
Of the 200 cases in the report involving 68 different countries, four refer to Australia, and each of these consider that Australia’s asylum seeker policy of indefinite mandatory detention violate the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott responded to the report claiming that “Australians are sick of being lectured to by the United Nations”. Juan Mendez responded in defence of the international legal process, “I’m sorry that the Prime Minister believes that we lecture”, Mendez told Fairfax Media, “We don’t believe so. We try to treat all governments the same way and deal with specific obligations and standards in international law as objectively as we can.”
The UN Report came just weeks after the tabling in Parliament of the Australian Human Rights Commission report The Forgotten Children, the Report of the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014.
The report calls for the release of children in detention on the mainland and in the offshore detention center on Nauru, after examining hundreds of cases of assaults against children, including over 30 incidents of sexual assault.
The Australian Government rejected the report as “partisan and unbalanced”, casting doubt on President of the Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs, though the senate has expressed confidence in her work in the Report and as President of the Commission.
Further reports of the shocking conditions experienced by detainees, were made clear in the Moss Review, an independent review into sexual abuse inside the detention center on Nauru. The review presents compelling evidence of rape, sexual assault of minors and guards trading marijuana for sexual favours from female detainees.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said that the government accepted all 19 recommendations of the Moss Review, the contents of which he recognised as “deeply disturbing”.
However, PM Tony Abbott’s response to the allegations of sexual assault in the detention center on Nauru: “occasionally… things happen“, and that the “most compassionate thing we can do is stop the boats”, demands continued scrutiny of the Australian governments response to the Moss Review.
The first academic analysis of Australia’s “turning back” of asylum seeker boats concludes that the policy is a fatally risky, moral and legal failure that is “severely damaging” the country’s reputation.
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