The announcement by the Australian government at the Obama Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis doesn’t address the future of around 2000 people currently languishing in offshore camps on Manus Island and Nauru said the Human Rights Law Centre, Getup and the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.
The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb said that while the Australian government’s pledge to keep the planned 2018 increase in the refugee resettlement intake to 18,750 per year and offer $130 million in increased financial assistance is a step forward, “showing decency to one person seeking asylum doesn’t justify or require cruelty to another.”
“Right now there are 2000 innocent people in our care who are suffering. I’ve sat face to face with women who have been sexually assaulted on Nauru. I’ve seen a man in our care collapse unconscious after being beaten on Manus. I’ve spoken with families desperate to begin rebuilding their lives in safety but who still languish on a painful road to nowhere after three years. Last night’s announcement doesn’t end their suffering.”
Matthew Phillips, GetUp Human Rights Director, said the Australian government has been humiliated at an international summit to help people fleeing conflict by it’s cruel policy of indefinite detention.
“Today’s announcement is a bad attempt at a cover-up. No other country in the world has deliberately and illegally held children, women and men for years on tiny remote island camps. It's shameful that the PM can't seem to resolve that situation and is instead making promises about 2018.” said Mr Phillips.
Mr Webb added, “Deliberate cruelty to innocent people is fundamentally wrong. Maintaining the planned intake and signing a cheque doesn’t make it right.”
Misha Coleman, Executive Officer, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, said there are safe, viable and humane alternatives.
“We should be working with the UN and countries in our region to develop safe and orderly pathways to protection for people who need to seek it,” said Ms Coleman.
HRLC, Getup and ACRT said that after three years of fear, violence and limbo, it’s time to bring the men, women and children languishing on Nauru and Manus back to Australia to begin rebuilding their lives, just like the other people we will now be welcoming.
Mr Webb said,“Ultimately, whatever the policy challenge, deliberate cruelty to innocent people is never the solution.”
For further comments or queries please contact:
Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre, 0437 278 961
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519