UN human rights expert condemns Australia’s punitive refugee policies

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, today condemned the Australian Government’s treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum, saying that Australia’s human rights record has been tarnished.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb said, “the government always says that it is acting consistently with its international human rights obligations. But just saying it over and over again doesn't make it true. Time and time again we see that the message from the UN is clear - our government’s policies are cruel, in breach of international law and fundamentally wrong.”

The UN Special Rapporteur’s statement comes at a time when the Australian Government has announced that refugees on Nauru and Manus may be considered for resettlement in the US. While the announcement was full of holes, containing absolutely no details about timeframes and numbers, Mr Webb said it was important that the government was finally acknowledging that offshore detention on Nauru and Manus is completely unsustainable.

“The government has finally conceded that Nauru and Manus are dead ends. That concession is important and long overdue. But this ugly chapter in our history does not close until every single man, woman and child suffering at our government’s hand on Nauru and Manus is finally rebuilding their lives in safety. No one can be left behind,” said Mr Webb.

“People on Nauru and Manus need to be evacuated to safety. Those already here and rebuilding their lives in our communities must be allowed to stay,” said Mr Webb.

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