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Lashing out at the UN is not the act of a good international citizen

McGaughey, F. and Kenny, M.A.ORCID: 0000-0002-5352-7549 (2015) Lashing out at the UN is not the act of a good international citizen. The Conversation, 10 March 2015 .

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The United Nations has again criticised Australia’s human rights record in relation to its treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. A report by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez, has raised a number of concerns. These include:

Australia’s policy in relation to the detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island breaches Articles 1 and 16 of the UN Convention Against Torture. These articles require that Australia, as a signatory to the convention, not allow acts amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in any place under its jurisdiction. Méndez found that the reports of conditions in the centre – including increasing acts of violence – combined with the arbitrary and indefinite nature of the detention violated the convention.

Failing to respond adequately to specific allegations of intimidation and ill-treatment of two asylum seekers on Manus Island following their statements in relation to the violent outbreaks at the centre in February 2014.

Recent legislation passed by federal parliament violates the convention as it allows for the arbitrary detention and refugee determination of asylum seekers at sea without access to legal assistance. Concerns were raised that this could lead to an asylum seeker being sent back to a country where there are substantial grounds for believing they would face torture, in breach of Article 3 of the convention.

Amendments to character provisions in the Migration Act violate the convention, as an increase in the refusal of visas on character grounds will lead to those individuals being held in detention indefinitely.

Item Type: Non-refereed Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Law
Publisher: The Conversation Media Group
Copyright: The Author
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