Australia Called to Account for Mandatory Detention Policies by International Community

Australia’s human rights record was scrutinised by the UN Human Rights Council through the Universal Periodic Review Process in January 2011. During that review, a significant number of countries asked questions and made recommendations about Australia’s immigration policies and the practice of mandatory detention. Australia gave a preliminary oral response to those questions during the January review and will provide a more detailed response to the Human Rights Council in June. A coalition of leading human rights and refugee advocacy organisations – comprising the HRLC, Human Rights Watch, the Refugee Council of Australia, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre and the Migrant and Refugee Rights Project at UNSW – is gravely concerned that Australia’s responses to questions from the international community did not accurately reflect Australian law, policy or practice on refugee and asylum seeker issues.

Accordingly, on 4 May 2011, the coalition sent a letter to the UN Ambassadors of each of the countries which raised concerns about Australia’s migration policies.

The letter provides accurate and up-to date information regarding:

  • the fact that Australian law provides for mandatory, indefinite detention without judicial oversight;
  • the fact that detention is not only used as a last resort or for the shortest practicable time;
  • children in detention; and
  • conditions of immigration detention.

The missions to which the letter was sent include those of Sweden, Norway, Slovenia, Pakistan, Guatemala, Ghana, the Philippines, Brazil, Switzerland, East Timor, Morocco and the United States.

The coalition is urging those countries to raise these concerns with Australia both, both bilaterally and in the Human Rights Council itself.