The recent report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has prepared a report for the UN Human Rights Council which criticises Australia for its treatment of asylum seekers.  We are shamed by our government’s disreputable conduct.  Abbott, and earlier governments which have supported the use of offshore detention, have brought disgrace on this country.  The key points are highlighted in red.

The Special Rapporteur says this of Australia:

 

JAL 27/03/2014 Case No. AUS 1/2014 State Reply: 26/05/2014 Allegations of indefinite detention of asylum seekers, detention conditions, alleged detention of children, and escalating violence and tension at the Regional Processing Centre.
16. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Australia for its reply, dated 26.05.2014, to the present communication.
17. The Rapporteur welcomes the Government’s initiatives to investigate and review the events of 16-18 February; however, he regrets that the Government has not to this date submitted, as announced in its initial reply, any substantive reply.
18. The Rapporteur hence finds that the Government, in its reply, does not sufficiently address the concerns, legal obligations, and questions raised in the initial communication, which prompts him to infer that the Government fails to fully and expeditiously cooperate with the mandate issued by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 25/13, as well as to comply with its obligation, under international customary law, to investigate, prosecute and punish all acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as codified, inter alia, in the Convention against Torture (CAT).
19. In the absence of information to the contrary, the Rapporteur concludes that there is substance in the allegations presented in the initial communication, reiterated above, and thus, that the Government of Australia, by failing to provide adequate detention conditions; end the practice of detention of children; and put a stop to the escalating violence and tension at the Regional Processing Centre, has violated the right of the asylum seekers, including children, to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as provided by articles 1 and 16 of the CAT.
UA 08/07/2014 Case No. AUS 2/2014 State Reply: 10/07/2014 Allegations concerning the situation of two groups of Sri Lankan asylum seekers and migrants (203 in total), including a significant number of Tamils, and their incommunicado detention and imminent deportation to Sri Lanka by the Australian Government, in contravention of Australia’s non-refoulement obligations.
20. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Australia for its reply, dated 10 July 2014, to the present communication.
21. The Rapporteur finds that the Government, in its reply, does not sufficiently address the concerns, legal obligations, and questions raised in the initial communication, which prompts him to infer that the Government fails to fully and expeditiously cooperate with the mandate issued by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 25/13, as well as to comply with its obligation, under international customary law, to investigate, prosecute and punish all acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as codified, inter alia, in the Convention against Torture (CAT). The Government in July 2014, stating that these matters were currently before the High Court of Australia. The Special Rapporteur has not received any communication since.
22. It has come to the attention of the Special Rapporteur that, as of the drafting of this report, the extradition of the two groups of Sri Lankan asylum seekers and migrants, has not taken place. The Rapporteur strongly urges the Government of Australia to protect the right of these 203 migrants to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as provided by articles 1 and 16 of the CAT, and to refrain from deporting these individuals to Sri Lanka where they risk torture, thereby ensuring compliance with article 3 of the CAT.
JUA 17/11/2014 Case No. AUS 4/2014 State Reply: 16/12/2014 Allegations concerning acts of intimidation and ill-treatment of two asylum-seekers, following their statements regarding the violent attacks against asylum-seekers, which allegedly took place between 16 and 18 February 2014 at the Manus Regional Processing Centre, and immigration detention centre located in Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, whose internal security is operated by a company on behalf of the Australian Government.
23. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Australia for its reply, dated 16 December 2014, to the present communication.
24. The Rapporteur takes note of the information provided by the Government that the allegations concerning the ill-treatment of Mr. A and Mr. B are subject to domestic legal proceedings currently before the High Court of Australia. He welcomes the Australian Governments adoption of 9 out of the 13 recommendations in the report “Review into the events of 16-18 February 2014 at the Manus Regional Processing Centre”, that was released on 23 May 2014. In spite of the information supplied by the Government, its reply fails to inform the Rapporteur about the status and progress of the case concerning Mr. A and Mr. B.
25. The Rapporteur finds that the Government, in its reply, does not sufficiently address all of the concerns, legal obligations, and questions raised in the initial communication, which prompts him to infer that the Government fails to fully and expeditiously cooperate with the mandate issued by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 25/13, as well as to comply with its obligation, under international customary law, to investigate, prosecute and punish all acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as codified, inter alia, in the Convention Against Torture (CAT).
26. In the absence of sufficient information to the contrary, the Rapporteur concludes that there is substance in the allegations presented in the initial communication, reiterated above, and thus, that the Government of Australia, by failing to provide any additional information or details of the investigation into Mr. A and Mr. B’s allegations, has violated their right to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as provided by article 1 and 16 of the CAT.
JOL 17/11/2014 Case No. AUS 5/2014 State Reply: 23/12/2014 Allegations concerning the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 and the Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancellation) Bill 2014 which are reportedly being scrutinized by the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee.
27. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Australia for its reply, dated 23 December 2014, to the present communication.
28. The Rapporteur acknowledges the comprehensive account of the Government in response to the concerns, legal obligations and questions raised in the initial communication.
29. He takes note of the information provided by the Government that the Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancellation) Bill 2014 and the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 passed both Houses of Parliament on 26 November 2014 and 15 December 2014, respectively.
30. Notwithstanding, the Rapporteur surmises that both bills put Australia at risk of violating the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment, which has passed both the house and the Senate of Australia at this point, violates the CAT because it allows for the arbitrary detention and refugee determination at sea, without access to lawyers. The Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancelation Bill violates the CAT because it tightens control on the issuance of visas on the basis of character and risk assessments.
31. The Rapporteur concludes that the Government of Australia, by failing to amend the provisions of the two bills to comply with the State’s obligations under international human rights law, particularly with regard to the rights of migrants, and asylum seekers, including children, has violated the rights of migrants and asylum seekers to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as provided by articles 1, 3, and 16 of the CAT.  …