Four articles recently published in the Journal of Medical Ethics / British Medical Journal have characterised Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers in offshore detention as involving or amounting to torture.
For those of us who have been involved in the area for some time, this does not come as a surprise: the frequency of self-harm, attempted suicide and successful suicide give a fair pointer to what is going on. And the Australian government makes it very difficult for ordinary Australians to find out what is going on in these places. In fact, the Australian government has made it a criminal offence for anyone who works in the detention system to disclose anything they learn in that capacity.
But some health workers in the offshore detention system have remained true to their ethical obligations: they are exposing the facts, even at the risk of prosecution. [That risk is very low: the government knows tht, if it prosecutes any health worker in the detention system for disclosing the truth about what is going on, that person will get the best pro bono defence this country has ever seen, and their defence will involve getting into the witness box and describing in detail the sort of horrors these articles disclose. See my analysis of how a defence would work]
Here are the four articles. We should be grateful that the authors had the courage and decency to publish the facts we all should know: