Nick Miller, ’Asylum seeker policy faces global criticism’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 11.11.15
Australia has copped a barrage of criticism at a United Nations human rights forum over its treatment of asylum seekers.
But Australia was defiant as dozens of countries called on it to wind back or end boat turn-backs and mandatory detention, and grant refugees their full rights.
Australia’s delegation, which included MP Philip Ruddock, insisted the methods were necessary, and had saved lives.
The UN Human Rights Council’s official review of Australia’s human rights policies took place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Monday. The scrutiny comes at a time when Australia is vying for a two-year term on the council.
During the review, representatives from more than 100 countries gave recommendations on how Australia should improve its human rights record. Countries including Brazil, Turkey, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Bangladesh – even Rwanda, Iran and North Korea – expressed concern over Australia’s treatment of refugees.
The presence of women and children in detention centres came in for particular criticism. Many countries called for Australia to ratify OPCAT – an international convention against torture, which would expose offshore asylum seeker detention centres to new international oversight and review. Countries taking part also noted Australia’s inadequate treatment of indigenous people, high level of violence against women, and the spread of Islamophobia.
France’s spokesman Thomas Wagner called for Australia to ‘develop alternatives to the mandatory detention of asylum seekers, especially when dealing with children’.
Germany’s representative said Australia should ‘critically review’ offshore processing.
He recommended Australia remove ‘children and their families, and other individuals at risk – in particular survivors of torture and trauma’ from detention centres.
The United States encouraged Australia to ‘ensure humane treatment and respect for the human rights of asylum seekers, including those processed offshore’.
The Google Map for the distance between Christmas (sic) Island and Australia exposes Australia’s servile hypocrisy re- China’s interests in the South China Sea.