The U.N Human Rights Council has condemned Australia for three cases of arbitrary detention of asylum seekers. The U.N working group’s recommendations to release the men and compensate them for illegal detention have been ignored by Australia.
Daniel Webb from the Human Rights Law Centre in Geneva said Australia lacked “credibility and moral authority” on human rights issues because of its own continued violations.
“They never want to talk about it on the world stage, but it’s increasingly clear that our government’s cruel and unlawful treatment of refugees will haunt it throughout its council term.”
One case involves Said Imasi, a stateless man believed to be from Western Sahara.
He has been detained without charge or trial for almost nine years. Orphaned at a young age, he fled a criminal gang in Europe and sought asylum in Australia.
Australian Immigration Authorities have remained undecided on his migration status and kept transferring him to different detention centers. Imasi is now kept at Christmas Island while waiting for his case to be heard in high court.
The Sydney lawyer who brought the three cases to the U.N, Alison Battisson from Human Rights for All, said, “It is unclear how long Australia will continue to sit on the human rights council and continue to ignore the opinions of one of the council’s own working groups. The hypocrisy is startling,”
She added “Australia’s use of arbitrary open-ended detention as a deterrent to other people exercising their right to asylum is destroying individual lives and families. The long-term impact of such treatment will be felt by generations to come.”
The U.N working group referenced the new guidelines for the detention of asylum seekers when it issued the following statement:
“Arbitrary detention can never be justified. Migrants and asylum seekers should only be detained as an exceptional measure of last resort within a set period of time only. In addition to that, children should never be detained because of their parents’ migration status.”
Migration remains a contentious issue in Australian politics as it has been around the world. Australia which has been acknowledged as a melting pot of different cultures and a hub for different nationalities has seen a shift in public opinion against increased immigration.