News / Asia

Australia Denies Asylum Seeker Abuse Claims

FILE - Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference in Sydney.
FILE - Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference in Sydney.
Phil Mercer
Australia has denied fresh claims of asylum-seeker abuse by its navy while confirming for the first time that it is turning boats back to Indonesia.  Immigration Minister Scott Morrison broke months of secrecy about the government's navy-led Operation Sovereign Borders people-smuggling crackdown to concede that boats were being turned around.
 
A Somali asylum-seeker told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation he was sprayed in the eyes by navy officers with a substance that made them sting and he fell onto a hot engine pipe, burning his hand.  The alleged mistreatment is said to have taken place during an Australian maritime operation to force a boat carrying asylum seekers from Indonesia to return to Indonesian waters.
 
Earlier this month, a video emerged of other would-be migrants being treated for injuries that they said had been inflicted when they were forced to hold on to a hot boat engine by Australian sailors during a similar operation.
 
Australian officials have denied the abuse claims. 
 
Immigration minister Scott Morrison said he is sure Australian personnel have acted professionally.
 
“What I can tell you is that I have total confidence in our Navy our Customs and Border Protection Service to operate in accordance with their training and in accordance with the procedures for dealing with difficult situations. Now we're not running a taxi service out there… We are running a border security operation and if there is non-complying or threatening behavior then I expect that our people will do their job,” said Morrison.
 
The minister has confirmed for the first time that vessels ferrying asylum seekers into Australian waters have been turned around and sent back to Indonesia.
 
It is part of the conservative government’s election promise to stop a steady flow of asylum seekers arriving by sea, although ministers have been accused of being too secretive about the policy. 
 
No people-smuggling boats have arrived in Australia since December 19.  It is the first time in six years that January has passed without a single boat arrival.
 
The tow-back policy, however, has angered Indonesia, which considers it a violation of its sovereignty. Australia’s relations with Jakarta have been further strained since a spat broke out over phone-tapping late last year and have been further enflamed by recent revelations that the Australian navy strayed into Indonesian waters during asylum-seeker operations.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More