UN investigator in Australia to probe refugee abuse

November 1, 2016 7:10 pm

special rapporteur on the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers, Francois Crepeau

A senior UN investigator has arrived in to launch a probe into the country’s much-criticized treatment of asylum seekers held in remote islands.
The trip on Tuesday came more than a year after Francois Crepeau aborted a similar visit to the country due to alleged lack of full cooperation from Canberra.
Crepeau, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers, is trying to assess Australia’s harsh migration programs, policies and laws.
The country’s tough treatment of refugees, particularly those held on detention camps on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus, has already been criticized by human rights groups as inhumane and cruel.
“This is an opportunity for me to understand how Australia manages its overall migration policies, and their impact on the human rights of migrants,” Crepeau said in a statement.
According to the Australian law, those who venture to reach the country by boat are intercepted and sent for processing at remote camps.
At those camps, refugees are forced to serve an indefinite mandatory detention without any chance of resettlement in Australia.
Crepeau will have 18 days to conduct his investigation both in Australia and the tiny island nation of Nauru, where around 1,200 desperate asylum seekers, including women and children, are currently living in dire conditions.
They are being kept for an indefinite detention period among some 10,000 local residents of the island country, which rests some 4,000 kilometers from Australia.
The UN independent expert canceled his last visit on September 2015, arguing that Canberra could not guarantee legal immunity to detention center workers who wanted to disclose information about asylum seekers and refugees. Crepeau will release his findings in a report on November 18.
Back in October, a UN report heavily censured Nauru for its incapability to safeguard asylum seekers’ children from sexual assault inside the Australian-funded detention center.
There are also numerous reports of rights violations and various abuses at these camps, with several refugees committing suicide.
Also on October, the Amnesty International shocked the world when it released a lengthy report, detailing refugees’ desperate conditions on the island after months of research. The report described the refugee camp on Nauru as a “open-air prison.”
The Amnesty report also said that the system under which asylum seekers and refugees were treated amounted to “torture.”
The Australian government has flatly rejected the allegations, claiming that the offshore processing was a vital deterrent to discourage potential asylum seekers from coming by boats to Australia.
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