News / Asia

UN Criticizes Australian Offshore Asylum Camp

A Sri Lankan asylum seeker who was rescued from a troubled boat adrift trying to reach Australia looks out from a porthole of a rescue ship upon arrival at Teluk Bayur port in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, January 2, 2013.
A Sri Lankan asylum seeker who was rescued from a troubled boat adrift trying to reach Australia looks out from a porthole of a rescue ship upon arrival at Teluk Bayur port in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, January 2, 2013.
Phil Mercer
The United Nations has released a highly critical report of Australia's offshore immigration detention center at Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is calling for an end to Canberra’s policy of automatically detaining asylum seekers.

The Australian-run immigration facility in Papua New Guinea was reopened at the end of last year to stop a steady flow of asylum seekers reaching Australia by boat.

Representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees spent three days studying the Manus Island facility in January. Their report criticizes the cramped conditions inside the camp, stressing that the isolated facility was potentially damaging for children.

The United Nations opposes offshore detention. Richard Towle, the UNHCR's regional representative says that among other things, it is difficult to meet international standards in remote parts of the South Pacific.
 
“The key failing is that there are in place no legal frameworks for the processing of refugee claims," says Towle.  "If the sole purpose of transfer from Australia to Papua New Guinea was to process people, one would expect there'd be some kind of process in place for people when they get there. These 221 people are being held in mandatory closed and indefinite detention, which is a very serious violation of international law.”

Refugee advocates say the Manus Island center houses around 250 asylum seekers, including more than 30 children.  Approximately one-half are families from Sri Lanka, while others have come from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rights groups have also condemned conditions at another Australian-sponsored camp on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru.

Following an inspection in December, Amnesty International said it had found what it called “a toxic mix of uncertainty, unlawful detention and inhumane conditions” that were creating an “increasingly volatile situation.”

The Australian government has said it will continue to improve facilities at its centers on Nauru and Manus Island.

Ministers insist the offshore camps are deterring asylum seekers from making the perilous sea voyage to Australia.  The alternative is to expand existing facilities on the mainland or build new camps, which the government is keen to avoid in an election year.

Immigration is likely to be a divisive issue when the country goes to the polls in September.  Conservative critics of the Labor government accuse it of losing control of Australia’s maritime borders, while the Green Party, which is allied with the Labor government, says that Canberra’s treatment of vulnerable asylum seekers is inhumane.  
Australia grants protection visas to about 13,000 refugees each year under various international treaties.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid