Save the Children is calling for an immediate examination of the Australian government’s immigration detention policy after a high ranking UN expert on asylum seekers and refugees cancelled a fact-finding mission citing concerns on restrictions to Australian immigration detention facilities.
United Nations Special Rapporteur Francois Crepeau was due to visit immigration detention centres including those on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea but cancelled a two week official visit to Australia after what his office described as “the lack of full cooperation from the government regarding protection concerns and access to detention centres.”
Save the Children’s Tim Norton who is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly said, “The Australian government should be deeply troubled that a high ranking UN expert on migration has cancelled an official visit to Australia. It should immediately act to ensure the special representative is given free access to Australia’s immigration detention centres.”
The UN is mandated to investigate allegations of human rights abuses that have surfaced in Australian detention facilities. Mr Crepeau was originally scheduled to visit the country at the invitation of the Australian government to gather first-hand information about the situation of migrants and asylum seekers in the country and in Australian off-shore detention centres.
However the Australia government has not cooperated with the United Nations official requests for full and free access to offshore detention facilities run by the Australian government.
The Special Rapporteur has also expressed his concerns about Australian government legislation which may prohibit any personnel or journalists from speaking freely about their concerns or witness accounts about the detention centres, and risk imprisonment for up to two years if they do so.
Cancellation of the UN visit to Australia coincides with a bid by the Australian government to secure a coveted seat on the UN’s Human Rights Council.
“Now more than ever Australia must demonstrate maximum transparency and end the culture of secrecy that surrounds Australia’s offshore immigration detention centres. This is especially relevant now as Australia vies for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council,” Mr Norton said.
Source: Save the Children