As grim five year anniversary for refugee children looms, Turnbull Government confronted with hard truths at UN

As grim five year anniversary for refugee children looms, Turnbull Government confronted with hard truths at UN

Following the UN Human Rights Chief’s condemnation of Donald Trump’s brutality to children at the US border, the Turnbull Government’s indefinite detention of 134 refugee children has been called out at the UN Human Rights Council overnight.

Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, told the Council that 19 July will mark five years of detention for 134 refugee children languishing indefinitely on Nauru.

“These children have been detained for five long years for fleeing the same atrocities our government comes here and condemns,” Mr Webb told the Council.

“40 of these children have been detained for their entire lives. They are four and five year-old kids who have never experienced a single day of freedom in their lives. The only world they have ever known is inside a mouldy tent, behind a fence, in an island prison,” said Mr Webb.

“It is so easy for our government to come here to this Council and masquerade as standing for human rights. But really, no government can truly stand for human rights while choosing to destroy the lives of children,” said Mr Webb.

The address was part of the 38th session of the Human Rights Council, Australia’s second as a member. The session began with the Trump Administration quitting the Council and has also seen the USA condemned condemned for its “unconscionable” cruelty to migrant children.

Mr Webb said that while the US exit was widely expected for many months, it did show that the very concept of universal human rights was facing an unprecedented threat.

“It’s clear Trump quit because he hates scrutiny and because he opposes the idea that all people are equal and deserve compassion and respect. There are some obvious parallels in Australian politics right now.”

“Trump quitting confirms that we are at a pivotal moment in the history of human rights. The crucial question for our government is whether they will keep being part of the problem – gnawing away at the very foundation of human rights by doing things like indefinitely imprisoning children - or will they actually step up, own some basic moral principles and become part of the solution?" said Mr Webb.

Read: The Human Rights Law Centre’s statement here.

Watch: The Human Rights Law Centre's statement here.

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For interviews or further information please call:
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519