“Desperate and dangerous”: UN committee on racial discrimination urges Australia to immediately evacuate its offshore refugee camps

“Desperate and dangerous”: UN committee on racial discrimination urges Australia to immediately evacuate its offshore refugee camps

Overnight, a UN committee of independent human rights experts told Australia to end the indefinite limbo of the 2000 men, women and children being warehoused on Manus Island and Nauru by evacuating them to safety in Australia.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released its concluding observations after reviewing Australia’s compliance with the Convention it promised to uphold. The Committee said that it was “alarmed” that innocent people - many of whom were found to be refugees years ago - remained trapped in “desperate and dangerous” conditions on Manus and Nauru and urged the Australian Government to bring them to Australia and find safe, viable resettlement options.

The Committee also reiterated that Australia continues to have clear legal responsibility for men, women and children it is warehousing on Manus and Nauru.

Amy Frew, lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, said:

“The international tide of condemnation is clearly rising. Malcolm Turnbull must act, and he must act quickly. He must do what both the Australian community is calling for, and what the UN recommends. He must evacuate every man, woman and child to safety immediately.”

The findings come just as the Australian Government is set to begin its three year term on the UN Human Rights Council. Ms Frew said that it was clear that Australia’s term on the Council risked being completely defined by its cruelty to refugees.

“Our Government wants to strut its stuff and look the part at the UN. But it is crystal clear that for as long as our Government continues to warehouse 2000 innocent men, women and children on Manus and Nauru it will lack credibility and moral authority on human rights,” said Ms Frew.

Asher Hirsch, Senior Policy Officer at the Refugee Council of Australia, said:

“The Refugee Council of Australia is deeply disappointed that for the fifth time this year, a UN body has handed down a report criticising Australia’s treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum. It seems that increasingly Australia is become an international pariah in relation to its human rights record.”

“We are concerned about the lives of the many thousands of people caught up in Australia’s cruel treatment and hope the sustained criticism on the Australian government internationally will see its policies change,” said Mr Hirsch.
 

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination concluding observations, can be found here.

For interviews or further information please call:

Michelle Bennett, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519