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Australia

    June 14, 2017

    A landmark settlement that forces the Australian government to pay more than AUS $70m in compensation to nearly 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers for illegally detaining them on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island amid horrific conditions must lead to their safe resettlement, Amnesty International said today.

    “While the compensation deal is important, it does not remedy the injustices visited upon the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island or change their present circumstances. The Australian government must finally face up to the inescapable reality that their offshore detention policies are unsustainable and bring all of the people trapped by them to safety in Australia,” said Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher.

    “While this settlement is long overdue, it is a welcome recognition of the harm that refugees and people seeking asylum have endured on Manus Island. Now, the Australian government must dismantle its illegal offshore detention centre and safely resettle these people.”

    April 04, 2017

    Released 00:01 BST on 05 April 2017

    A major corporation responsible for running the Australian government’s refugee “processing” centre on Nauru is making millions of dollars from a system that amounts to torture of refugees and people seeking asylum, Amnesty International said today.

    A new briefing, ‘Treasure I$land’, exposes how Spanish multinational Ferrovial and its Australian subsidiary Broadspectrum are complicit in, and reaping vast profits from, Australia’s cruel and secretive refugee “processing” system on the Pacific island.

    “The Australian government has created an island of despair for refugees and people seeking asylum on Nauru, but an island of profit for companies making millions of dollars from a system so deliberately and inherently cruel and abusive it amounts to torture,” said Lucy Graham, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Business and Human Rights.

    “By knowingly enabling the continuation of this system, which is specifically designed to cause suffering and deter people from travelling to Australia by boat to seek asylum, Broadspectrum and Ferrovial are unequivocally complicit in this abuse.”

    November 14, 2016

    Today’s announcement by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on third country resettlement is an extreme step in shirking responsibility by the Australian Government, said Amnesty International.

    Prime Minister Turnbull today announced that the Australian Government is in discussions with the United States for some of the refugees warehoused on Nauru and Manus Island to be settle in the US via a process administered by the UNHCR.

    “It is absolutely shameful that the Australian Government has first sent several thousand people to languish for three years on Nauru and Manus Island, set up an offshore processing regime on Nauru that amounts to torture and is now passing the buck when it comes to offering them protection,” said Dr Graham Thom, Refugee Coordinator at Amnesty International Australia. 

    “Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and should be leading by example at a time of global record high levels of people forced to seek safety. Yet our Government is failing to play a fair part in providing sanctuary for those fleeing conflict and persecution, and this urgently needs to change.

    November 01, 2016
    Children playing near the Refugee Processing Centre on Nauru.

    By Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research

    There was a time when Australia led the way on refugee protection.

    Following World War II, Australia came second only to the United States on resettling European refugees. Its signature brought the Refugee Convention into force a few years later. And, in the 1970s, it resettled the third highest number of Indochinese refugees following the wars there.

    Sadly those days are a distant memory. After earning global notoriety for the cruelty it continues to inflict on refugees and people seeking asylum on Nauru and Manus Island, the Australian government has shown it is capable of worse.

    Not only is the government refusing to shut down its centres on the two Pacific islands, it is now planning to introduce a law to permanently ban the people trapped there from getting a visa to Australia.

    October 18, 2016

    By Anna Shea: Amnesty International Researcher/Advisor on Refugee and Migrant Rights

    In an out-of-the way, dingy watering hole, a young woman I’ll call Jane told me: “I picked this place because it was very noisy, so there’d be less chance of being monitored.”

    Up until that point, we had only communicated by encrypted messages, so that the local authorities wouldn’t know about our meeting. I was in a country that had recently enacted legislation  allowing it to prosecute and imprison people who disclosed information about offshore government operations. By meeting with me, Jane was demonstrating real courage. Many other people were too scared to meet with me—or even speak on the phone.  At the bar, Jane spoke for hours about the human rights abuses she had witnessed. At several points, she broke down in tears. 

    As a human rights lawyer with Amnesty International, I’m used to making elaborate arrangements to ensure the safety and anonymity of the people I interview in authoritarian countries. I’m also accustomed to hearing traumatic stories of abuse.

    October 17, 2016

    Released 17 OCTOBER 2016, 09:30 GMT

    The Australian government is subjecting refugees and asylum seekers to an elaborate and cruel system of abuse – brazenly flouting international law – just to keep them away from its shores, a new Amnesty International report says today.

    Based on months of research, including interviews with more than 100 people in Nauru and Australia, Amnesty International’s report ‘Island of Despair’ exposes the government of Australia’s policy of “processing” refugees and asylum-seekers on Nauru for what it is: a deliberate and systematic regime of neglect and cruelty.

    “On Nauru, the Australian government runs an open-air prison designed to inflict as much suffering as necessary to stop some of the world’s most vulnerable people from trying to find safety in Australia,” said Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research, one of the few people who managed to enter the remote and secretive island to investigate human rights abuses.

    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.

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