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Australia

    August 31, 2016

    Major reforms must be undertaken by the authorities in the Australian state of Queensland to protect the rights of Indigenous children from a youth justice system that criminalizes them out of all proportion to the general population, a new Amnesty International report says today.

    The report Heads Held High: Keeping Queensland kids out of detention, strong in culture and community will be launched at Parliament House, Brisbane today.

    “While the Queensland authorities have recognized the need for reform, much more needs to be done. In particular, a shift to supporting Indigenous-led initiatives could make a significant difference to prevent another generation of Indigenous children from being lost behind bars,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    August 25, 2016

    By Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International

    “I have lumps in my breasts, in my throat, and in my uterus…” – Halimeh spoke softly, but as she quickly uttered these words, I noticed an immense sadness in her dark brown eyes. We were sitting on the rocks near the ocean, wary of wild dogs barking nearby, and melting in the scorching heat of this remote Pacific island. I could feel her fear, so common for any woman in her 30s who checks her breasts in the morning and knows something isn’t right. 

    Halimeh fled Iran three years ago, after she said several of her friends got executed there, because they converted to Christianity, something that she wanted to do as well. She aimed for Australia—a country where she was hoping to find peace and freedom from religious persecution.  

    August 18, 2016

    Australia must establish independent bodies to investigate child abuse in its detention facilities across the country, Amnesty International said today after it obtained more than 1,000 pages of government documents revealing abuses in two more centres.

    The documents -- obtained by Amnesty International through a Freedom of Information request – showed a number of serious incidents, including where staff at the centres in the state of Queensland put child detainees in solitary confinement, deployed a security dog where a child was threatening suicide, caused bone fractures as a result of restraint and control techniques, and conducted partial strip searches using humiliating methods.

    “These official documents shine a light in the darkest corners of these detention centres, and reveal incidents, and in some case policies, which may constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in violation of Australia’s obligations under international law,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    August 17, 2016

    Responding to today’s reports that the Australian Government-run refugee detention centre on Manus Island will close Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research, said:

    “While welcoming the news that the centre will close Amnesty International urges the Australian Government to bring those currently held there to Australia. We must not forget that the Government set up a system of deliberate abuse of and cruelty towards almost two thousand people in two detention centres who are simply looking for a safe place to rebuild their lives.”

    “Amnesty International calls on Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton to urgently confirm the timeframe by which it will close the detention centre and safely settle refugees in Australia. Offshore processing can no longer be part of Australia’s response to those attempting to arrive here by boat seeking protection.”

    August 02, 2016

    Investigation on remote Pacific island finds deliberate abuse hidden behind wall of secrecy

    (Sydney, 3 August, 2016)—About 1,200 men, women, and children who sought refuge in Australia and were forcibly transferred to the remote Pacific island nation of Nauru suffer severe abuse, inhumane treatment, and neglect, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today. The Australian government’s failure to address serious abuses appears to be a deliberate policy to deter further asylum seekers from arriving in the country by boat.

    Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. They endure unnecessary delays and at times denial of medical care, even for life-threatening conditions. Many have dire mental health problems and suffer overwhelming despair—self-harm and suicide attempts are frequent. All face prolonged uncertainty about their future.

    April 29, 2016

    The death of another refugee in an Australian-run detention centre on Nauru demonstrates the fatal flaws of a system that must be brought to an end, Amnesty International said today.

    “The desperate actions of this refugee underscore the perilous circumstances found in offshore processing centres run by the Australian government. As Amnesty International has been stressing for several years now, the current system is cruel, inhuman and needs to end,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    A 23-year-old Iranian man known as Omid died in hospital in Brisbane, Australian officials confirmed, after reportedly being held for three years at the Australian-run facility on the Pacific island of Nauru. Omid had been granted refugee status. 

    “We have received reports of rape, sexual harassment and physical and psychological abuse at these centres, and this most recent death is another sad example of how Australia is letting down some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” said Champa Patel.

    October 27, 2015

    Released  00.01 Sydney time on Thursday 29 October / 13.01 GMT on Wednesday 28 October

    October 09, 2015

    News that Nauru has refused Al Jazeera journalists permission to enter the country is just the latest development in a crackdown on freedom of expression amid fears for the detention conditions and treatment of hundreds of asylum seekers on the Pacific island state, Amnesty International said.

    The media blackout is particularly alarming when there are no independent media outlets in Nauru. It comes just days after foreign media reported on refugees being raped on the island.

    Nauruan authorities announced this week that they would no longer lock up asylum seekers in the detention centre they run in conjunction with the Australian government. But this positive development apparently has a dark side, as journalists from Al Jazeera’s Sydney bureau found out when they attempted to apply for media visas, only to be eventually informed this week that all media applications to visit the island are “not approved”.

    August 14, 2015

    “I find it shocking that we are better at keeping our young people locked up in detention than in school.” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda in a recent Amnesty International report on Australia

    In many countries around the world, Indigenous women, men and youth are much more likely than other members of society to spend a significant part of their lives behind bars.

    The disproportionate rates of incarceration are usually a result both of the ongoing, largely unaddressed impact of colonial policies and practices that have marginalized and impoverished Indigenous peoples and of the systemic discrimination and bias that continue to face Indigenous peoples in justice systems that remain foreign to their cultures and values.

    June 18, 2015

    Amnesty International Australia Release

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned at recent allegations that Australian officials paid people-smugglers tens of thousands of dollars to return a boat carrying 65 asylum-seekers to Indonesia. If true, these actions would be in blatant violation of Australia’s international legal obligations.

    The alleged events are detailed in documents provided to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) by the Head of Public Relations at the East Nusa Tenggara province police headquarters commissioner Ronalzie Agus. Indonesian authorities based this information on interviews with six witnesses as well as the captain and crew of the boat.

    Alleged payment to send asylum-seekers to Indonesia

    June 02, 2015

    Amnesty International Australia Release

    Indigenous communities are taking new, innovative approaches to keep children out of detention - but their success hinges on Australian government support, to reverse Australia’s crisis of Indigenous youth incarceration, said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty, launching a national report at the National Press Club today.

    Salil Shetty is in Australia to call on the Government to support Indigenous-led justice reinvestment programs, in response to the soaring overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in detention, who are incarcerated at 24 times the rate of non-Indigenous children.

    Australia locks up Indigenous children, from as young as 10 years old, at one of the highest rates in the world.

    Overrepresentation is rising, with Indigenous children making up less than 6% of the population of 10–17 year-olds yet more than half (58 per cent) of young people in detention.

    March 20, 2015

    Amnesty International Australia Release

    Amnesty International is extremely concerned by the dangerous lack of accountability and transparency, as well as continued abuse allegations, at the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru.

    The Australian government's failure to protect asylum seekers is laid bare in the Department of Immigration’s Moss Review, released today.

    Amnesty International visited the facility in 2012, but since then has written three times to the Nauruan Government requesting access. In response to the first letter, the organization was told the timing was not appropriate, while no response was received to the two later letters.

    “The extent of reported sexual abuse and inappropriate behaviour by staff against asylum seekers is shocking and suggests that existing protections are ineffective or virtually non-existent.”

    December 05, 2014

     Amnesty International Australia News Release

     

    Amnesty International warns the passage of the Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload Bill through Federal Parliament overnight will inevitably see some refugees returned to the hands of their torturers.

    No avenue to appeal

    Under the flawed "fast track" process, a large number of asylum seekers will have no avenue to appeal the department’s decision about their refugee status.

    "This Bill flies in the face of findings from the United Nations Committee Against Torture which found Australia’s asylum seeker policies contravened the torture convention," said Dr Graham Thom, Amnesty International’s Refugee Coordinator.

    "Of particular concern to the UN, Amnesty International and countless other human rights organisations, is that it violates international law by removing any requirement to consider whether a person will be tortured or persecuted if returned home.

    July 08, 2014

     Amnesty International Australia News Release

    Amnesty International expresses relief that High Court deliberations have put the transfer of asylum seekers to Sri Lanka's Navy in doubt, a plan that if enacted, would put Australia in blatant breach of international law and set a dangerous precedent.

    Three-year-old Febrina is among the 153 missing asylum seekers © Tamil Refugee Council

    The comments follow an application that was brought on behalf of 153 Sri Lankan asylum seekers recently intercepted by the Australian Navy on their way from India.

    May 01, 2014

    An agreement between Cambodia and Australia to forcibly transfer asylum seekers to the Southeast Asian country should be scrapped, Amnesty International said today.

    The call comes amid media reports that Cambodia has agreed a deal “in principle” to receive refugees and asylum seekers from Australia. These may include some of those held at Australian-run detention facilities in Nauru and on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

    “Australia should be ending its offshore processing and detention of asylum seekers, not looking to outsource its refugee responsibilities to another, much poorer country,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. 

    “Cambodia should be aware of the serious risks around this arrangement and must consider whether it really is ready to participate. The country has only limited capacity to process asylum seeker claims and is still struggling to respect and protect the rights of its own citizens.”

    Australia’s unlawful offshore detention centres

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