UN Secretary General urges PM Turnbull to rethink Australia’s refugee policies

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, yesterday met with Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, at the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur and expressed concern over the detention conditions in Australia’s offshore processing centres and encouraged the Prime Minister to reconsider Operation Sovereign Borders.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb, said Australia’s harsh and unfair treatment of people seeking asylum was counterproductive to global efforts to address the unprecedented need to provide safety to people displaced by conflict and fleeing persecution. 

“If other countries adopted our punitive deterrence policies then the world's refugees would have nowhere to go. We are setting a dangerous global precedent and the head of the UN is quite rightly calling for change,” said Mr Webb.

Mr Webb said as a wealthy, developed democracy with a strong history of refugee resettlement, Australia could and should do more to pursue genuine regional solutions to provide safe pathways to protection

“The UN clearly sees we have the potential to be part of the solution but our current policies make us part of the problem. Instead of punishing those who arrive and turning back those seeking to come, we should work with the UN and countries in our region to ensure families who need protection can access it safely,” said Mr Webb.

The discussions also covered the situation in Syria and Iraq, ways to prevent violent extremism and the need for Australia to lead efforts to ensure a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.


For further comments, please contact Daniel Webb on 0437 278 961