Australia ERI Oral Statement HRC July 2019

Prolonged and indefinite detention, ongoing family separation and bleak future prospects have resulted in declining mental health and widespread hopelessness. There have been more than 70 attempted suicides on Manus Island since the May Australian election.

Under Australia’s ‘offshore processing’ system, people seeking asylum in Australia by boat are sent to Nauru or Manus Island in Papua New Guinea Currently, almost 900 remain in limbo. 

Australia could change this by:   

  • Expediting medical transfers to Australia for people who need medical care. 
  • Reopening the refugee status determination process
  • Exploring all resettlement options: including with the United States, New Zealand and other countries where refugees have direct links. 

The Australian Human Rights Commission recently reported that Australia’s onshore immigration detention system is becoming “more and more like prison” and in Australian immigration detention people are held for an average of 500 days, far longer than any comparable jurisdiction.

Australia’s system of mandatory immigration detention continues to detain without valid justification.

It is time for Australia to end the cruelty and turn its focus from harsh policies of deterrence to a focus on durable solutions in accord with international law and its obligations under the Refugee Convention.

drafted by Edmund Rice Centre, Sydney