News in brief - Human rights in the headlines

Rethink urged on Australia’s cooperation with Sri Lanka

A new report highlights various ways in which Australia's co-operation with Sri Lanka’s military puts asylum seekers at risk. The report includes a DFAT cable obtained under Freedom of Information laws that reveals the Australia Federal Police declined to interview a man claiming to have been severely tortured after being sent back to Sri Lanka by Australia.

Fallout from Manus violence continues

PNG police are set to lay charges relating to the death of asylum seeker, Reza Barati, during the violence in the Manus Island detention centre. An Australian employee of the G4S security firm claims that PNG police allowed the break-in to the compound last month and did nothing to stop the horrific violence. Asylum seekers on Manus Island are reportedly being forced to perform cleaning, catering and maintenance work after local contractors were banned by management from re-entering the camp following threats and intimidation.

Immigration Department reveals asylum seekers' personal details

The personal details of a third of all asylum seekers held in Australia have been inadvertently released by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the privacy breach was unacceptable.

PNG Court to conduct inquiry into treatment of asylum seekers

A Papua New Guinea judge will begin an inquiry into whether asylum seekers' human rights are being adhered to under the Pacific island nation's constitution.

Powers to indefinitely detain refugees to be strengthened

Both major parties have supported a bill to make ASIO security assessments or refugees even more difficult to challenge.

Nauru’s legal system in disarray

A judicial crisis in Nauru over the Pacific island’s power to deport foreigners has resulted in the resignation of its Australian Chief Justice, Geoffrey Eames, QC. Refugee advocates are concerned that Nauru’s crumbling legal system is all that stands between more than 1000 asylum seekers and their wrongful return to persecution. Advocates have also warned of mental health risks for unaccompanied children sent to Nauru.

China criticises Australia's asylum seeker policies

China has criticised Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers during regular human rights talks between the two countries.

Gov rethinking promise to repeal protections against racial discrimination

Speculation is mounting that Commonwealth Attorney-General will only amend and not repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Tough on crime policies fail to reduce crime rates

Victoria has recorded the highest growth in prisoner population in Australia on the back of the Napthine government's ‘tough-on-crime’ approach. At the same time Victoria’s overall crime rate has risen.

Legal action by fertility clinic to ensure women can safely access services

An abortion clinic is taking legal action against Melbourne city council to demand it ensures women can safely access legal health services. In a politically opportunistic move Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, has claimed new move-on powers to be given to Victoria Police will help. However, the council already has sufficient power and the move-on laws, described by rights groups as excessive, are not required.