At critical stage of UN bid, Australia must find humane way forward for refugees on Manus and Nauru

The Australian government must immediately evacuate every person warehoused on Nauru and Manus to safety if it wants to be taken seriously as a human rights leader, the Human Rights Law Centre told the United Nations Human Rights Council in a statement delivered overnight.

Australia is a candidate for a seat on the 47-member Council for the term 2018-2020, with the vote set to take place in October 2017.

Daniel Webb, a Director of Legal Advocacy with the Human Rights Law Centre, said that Australia's deliberate mistreatment of people seeking asylum was a stain on its human rights record and cast a dark shadow over its Human Rights Council candidacy.

“The Government can keep talking itself up on the world stage all it likes, but actions speak louder than words. Our Government will continue to lack credibility on human rights for as long as it keeps being deliberately cruel to innocent people – people who’ve done nothing other than seek a better life in safety for them and their families,” said Mr Webb.

The Council heard the statement just two days after the Australian Government confirmed it would pay $70 million to almost 2000 men, many of whom it has warehoused on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for nearly 4 years. The Government has also signalled it will close the Manus Island detention centre in October.

“Manus and Nauru are dead ends. It’s not good enough to just bulldoze the camps or throw hush money at past abuses. Every single man, women and child on Nauru and Manus needs the same thing – to be evacuated to safety and finally be allowed to begin rebuilding their lives,” said Mr Webb.

A copy of the statement can be found here.

Video of the statement can be found here.

For further comments or queries please contact:
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519