Monthly Archives: April 2014

Asylum seekers: Amnesty accuses Nauru of hiding conditions after refusing detention centre access

April 29, 2014

Tents at the regional processing centre on Nauru

Amnesty International says the Nauru government has refused its request to inspect the centre.

Amnesty International has accused the Nauruan government of trying to avoid public scrutiny of the treatment of asylum seekers on the Pacific Island.

Amnesty says the Nauruan government has declined a request to tour the Australian-run immigration detention centre, citing “the current circumstances” and it being “an incredibly busy time”.

Amnesty’s refugee spokesman Graham McGregor says the human rights group wanted to view conditions at the Nauru centre, which currently houses 1,177 asylum seekers including women and children.

“It is extremely unusual for us to be denied access to a detention centre and in fact we visited the Manus Island detention centre, as you might recall, back in November last year,” he said.

“So we, as part of that work, similarly put in a request to visit the Nauru detention centre and we received a refusal.”

Amnesty International’s Manus Island report, which was published in December, described conditions in the PNG centre as cruel, inhuman, degrading and violating prohibitions against torture.

“We have good reason to believe there may be similar human right abuses taking place in Nauru,” Mr McGregor said.

“Certainly what has leaked out about the Nauru detention centre has been extremely concerning, particularlythe recent allegations of water shortages and allegations that children at the facility are being physically abused.”

Amnesty says it’s is being ‘cold shouldered’

Amnesty International says the request to visit the detention centre was put to the Nauru justice minister David Adeang in early March.

He says the minister responded that the Nauru processing centre “was incredibly busy and that they felt that a visit by Amnesty International at this time may appear premature”.

A proposal for alternative dates was ignored, according to Mr McGregor, and “enough time has passed that we would feel we are being cold shouldered.”

He has accused Nauru of trying to hide conditions for the asylum seekers.

“[The refusal] did follow some other steps that have been taken recently by the Nauruan government to try and prevent public scrutiny of conditions inside the detention centre,” he said.

“For example, back in February of this year, the Nauruan government increased the visas for journalists to visit the country from $200 to $8,000, which was a pretty clear sign they simply didn’t want people coming and reporting on what was going on there.

“We did have a little hint there that the Nauru government was not comfortable with that sort of scrutiny, but again we were still surprised by their response.”

Mr McGregor says he does not accept that it is too busy at the centre for an Amnesty International inspection.

“I would imagine conditions at these detention centres are always pretty busy,” he said.

“They are very crowded, they are handling a very difficult system, a very difficult population of people who have a lot of mental health problems, a lot of existing trauma, a lot of health conditions.

“On Nauru, of course, you have children and pregnant women there as well. It is always going to be a busy time.”

UN human rights inspectors’ invite withdrawn

Amnesty’s rejection comes after the Nauruan government withdrew an invitation for a team of UN human rights observers.

Human rights inspectors from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had wanted to investigate the conditions of the asylum seekers sent by Australia, but had to cancel at the last minute.

The Nauru government questioned whether the UN team was trying to use the Pacific island nation as a publicity stunt.

A government spokesman told the ABC earlier this month that, “given the way they have gone about this, it is reasonable to question whether this is merely another publicity stunt by a group with a political agenda”.

The ABC has been told the first refugee determinations at Nauru’s offshore immigration processing centre are now a couple of weeks away.

The asylum seekers are being told that people found to be refugees will be settled in Nauru on a visa for a period up to five years.

They are being warned not to break any laws or take part in protests while awaiting a decision.

While the first refugee determinations are due to be handed down soon, the detainees are being urged to be patient.

Amnesty International says it will keep asking Nauru for access to the immigration processing centre.

The ABC has sought comment from the Nauruan government.

A spokesperson for Australia’s Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said: “We are not aware of any such decisions (on rejection of access), we have not been consulted on any such decisions, and this is ultimately a matter for Nauru.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-29/nauru-hiding-asylum-seeker-conditions-amnesty-says/5418924

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Scott Morrison visit sent Manus tension soaring, says G4S whistleblower

April 28, 2014

Aerial view of Manus Island detention centre

Aerial view of Australia’s offshore asylum seeker processing facility on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, March 3, 2013. Photo: Digital Globe (Source: ABC News)

• Former security officer Martin Appleby talks exclusively to Guardian Australia, the first guard to speak out
• Minister ‘put security at risk’ when he told asylum seekers they would never see Australia
• Detention centre beset by lack of proper procedures, unprofessional conduct and atrocious conditions, Appleby says

 

Scott Morrison directly contributed to tension in the Manus Island detention centre during a late September visit, according to an explosive set of allegations made by former G4S guard Martin Appleby, who is the first guard to speak publicly since the unrest on Manus in February that left one asylum seeker dead.

In an exclusive interview with Guardian Australia, Appleby, who worked as a safety and security officer and a training officer on Manus between July and late December 2013, alleges:

  • The immigration minister addressed a compound in late September, resulting in a state of “high alert” being called for riot, fire and self-harm. Appleby made these observations in a video diary that was recorded just days after Morrison’s address. The minister, according to Appleby, told asylum seekers: “You will never see the shores of Australia.” The decision to address asylum seekers in this manner, “put people’s security at risk, including his own”, and was a turning point in tensions within the camp, according to Appleby.
  • Papua New Guinean nationals in the incident response teams (IRTs) were given “probably three days” of training. Appleby describes this as not at all adequate. Local IRTs are alleged to have been involved in the violence that erupted on the evening of 17 February, when Reza Barati was killed. A G4S incident report extract of that night seen independently by Guardian Australia observes a manager “lost control” of her IRT that evening. Appleby, who has a decade’s experience in corrections, says the training of the local IRTs should have been a “minimum six intensive weeks”.
  • As the numbers in the centre began to swell after the introduction of the “PNG solution”, G4S “couldn’t afford any more time to give to training and it was a sort of a snowball effect”, Appleby says. “It was a failure that was always going to fail,” he adds.
  • There was no proper procedure in place to count the number of asylum seekers in the centre. Appleby says he has “no doubt” detainees absconded from the camp.
  • Facilities in the detention centre were atrocious: “No one should be made to live under those conditions. No one.”

A spokeswoman for Morrison’s office said there was “no basis in fact” for the allegation that the minister’s September trip had exacerbated tension on Manus. “Claims that the minister was ‘evacuated’ or had ‘increased tensions’ are false. They have no basis in fact,” she said.

Morrison said in an Operation Sovereign Border press conference on 30 September that he had addressed asylum seekers on Manus: “I gave them a very clear message, and it was this; they will not be getting what they came for. They would remain there at that centre until they went home or were settled in a country other than Australia.”

Asked for a response to all of Appleby’s allegations, the spokeswoman responded: “The government inherited a facility on Manus Island that had been rushed by the previous government.” A full statement can be read here.

Guardian Australia has produced three films of Appleby’s allegations. They feature never-before-seen footage from inside the detention centre and use evidence obtained by a sustained investigation into the unrest.

None of the footage or documents used were provided to Guardian Australia by Appleby.

He also alleges that there was no process to permanently separate vulnerable asylum seekers from the main population. Appleby says he was given the task of caring for one sexual assault victim for 24 hours; the detainee was “very scared” of what would happened to him when he returned to his compound.

Appleby was present during the evacuation of the centre on 18 October, after an altercation between the PNG navy and police outside the main gate. His is the first detailed account of that event. He says PNG forces turned on G4S staff who rushed out to stop the confrontation. Personnel were evacuated single file along a beach behind the centre, leaving asylum seekers alone in the compound. He says there were no evacuation procedures. “We didn’t know how many staff at that point were being evacuated,” he said. “Was it mismanagement? Was it lack of procedure? Was it all of the above? For people from professional backgrounds to act in such a way was just disgraceful.”

Since leaving Manus, Appleby has announced he will stand as an ALP candidate in the Victorian state elections. He says none of his allegations are politically motivated.

A spokesman for G4S did not respond to Appleby’s specific allegations. “G4S will not comment in detail on individual allegations with regard to the Manus Island incidents of 16 and 17 February, as we do not wish to pre-empt or compromise a number of Australian and PNG reviews that are currently under way,” he said.

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Tony Abbott, Hazaras are not economic migrants

April 27, 2014

400-oz-gov-customs

Tony Abbott, Hazara are not economic migrants!:

 Australian immigration department’s recent move to deny permanent protection visas to scores of declared refugees and customs and border protection services’ graphic novel aimed at deterring Hazara asylum seekers have not only proved shocking to thousands of asylum seekers but have also invited massive criticism from human and refugee rights activists and organization all around the world.

While refusing grant of permanent protection to the declared refugees, the immigration minister, Scot Morrison, quoted the clause 866.222 of the Australian Migration Regulations 1994 which says that anybody who gets to Australia by boat without visa is ineligible for getting permanent residence. Morrison introduced the draconian and discriminatory clause in October last as part of his hard lined policy against the boat people which was, however, voted down by the Australian senate on March 27, 2014. The credit to disallow the clause, no doubt, goes to the Greens leader, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young who is one of the big supporters of refugees in Australia.

The minister also tried to reintroduce the infamous “Temporary Protection Visa” of John Howard’s era, which was also rejected by the Labours and the Greens with majority votes in the senate. He also introduced a new “Code of Conduct” which imposes extra and irrational obligations on asylum seekers while living in community. This is somewhat similar to section 295-B and 295-C of Pakistan’s blasphemy law under which a person can be detained and sentenced to death on mere complaint of another person regarding violation of the law even if that person has not done so.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott also supports Morrison’s tough policies and has even termed it like that of a war against people smugglers, though, in fact, it is a war against asylum seekers. Tony Abbott must feel ashamed for issuing such a statement as it does not suit the country like Australia to declare war against a handful of people smugglers which is directly affecting thousands of persecuted and terrorism-hit asylum seekers from across the world who try to get to Australia by boat in a bid to save their lives. There are many other ways to cope with human smugglers, but a war against them at the cost of lives of poor asylum seekers is not acceptable at all under any law.

Over and above, the publishing of the graphic novel on Australian customs website deterring Hazaras from Afghanistan and Pakistan not to travel to Australia by boat and the advertisement “No way. They will not make Australia Home” on immigration department’s website is the worst kind of promotion to stop asylum seekers from choosing Australia as the place to take refuge. One can’t imagine that a civilized country like Australia could go to such an extent so shamelessly just to stop the people who are fleeing their countries to avoid persecution.

This pictorial story of the Hazara boy is a total negation of the plight and persecution of Hazaras in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Trying to depict terrorism-stricken Hazaras as economic migrants is a misleading message being propagated by Australia across the globe. The way it shows the boy thinking about getting to Australia while working at an auto workshop, forcing his parents for arranging money for his travel, having lavish meals at restaurant and feeling remorse in detention centre for travelling to Australia is altogether false and quite opposite to actual facts.

It is true that Hazaras have got some representation in Afghan parliament and government as compared to the past yet they are still being subjected to persecution and discrimination in most parts of the country which is why Hazaras are fleeing from Afghanistan. Before producing such fact-distorting graphic novel, Morrison should have studied the report of Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT’s) about Afghanistan (Note: Australian government has removed this doc from this URL) published on 31 July, 2013 which openly admits discrimination against Hazaras in Afghanistan on a wide range. Moreover, the UN report recently published reveals that the number of civilians killed and wounded in the conflicts in Afghanistan rose by 14% last year. Morrison should keep it in mind that he can make some naïve Australian fool for some time by such cheap tactics but can’t deceive the world by distorting the actual facts.

Abbott government must try to understand and highlight the reasons forcing Hazaras out of their native countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan instead of launching a propaganda campaign against these helpless people for political point scoring.  Hazaras are not economic migrants as is being propagated by Morrison. Nobody would ever dare to undertake the risky voyage in a rickety boat in dangerous Indian Ocean to get to Australia for economic gains. The entire world knows as to what is going on with Hazaras in Pakistan and Afghanistan that is driving them out of their countries.

Asylum seekers whether they are from Pakistan or Afghanistan or any other country, all deserve to be treated in a compassionate and humane way. Those who travel by boat to get to Australia even deserve more compassion than those who travel by plane as they put their life at risk and are not sure if they would get to Australia alive or not. Interestingly, in Australia, the government has adopted quite an opposite policy and the asylum seekers who arrive by boat are treated as criminals and punished for their crime of putting their life at risk.

Australian government needs to reconsider its hard-lined policy against all asylum seekers in general and Hazaras in particular keeping in view the harsh treatment and brutalities they are undergoing in their native countries at the hands of Islamist terrorist groups.

Haider Ali

Sourced from http://www.hazara.net/2014/04/tony-abbott-hazaras-are-not-economic-migrants/

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Nauru refugees to be given five-year work visas

April 27, 2014

nauru detention centre
The detention centre in Nauru is said to have had a limited water supply for about a week, with only drinking water available. Photograph: AAP

Asylum seekers detained on Nauru who are found to be refugees will be given a five-year working visa for Nauru, a leaked document obtained by Guardian Australia says. The first decisions are due to be handed down in a few weeks’ time.

Guardian Australia also understands that a week-long water shortage at the Australian immigration detention centre on the island has resulted in blocked toilets and no showers for the hundreds of children, families and pregnant women detained there.

Flooding from rainfall has also prevented some contractors entering the family compound in the past few days.

The first group of asylum seekers to be given the chance of settling in Nauru will be informed of their status “in the coming weeks”, says the document, which bears the Nauruan government’s coat of arms.

Screenshot of the refugee resettlement document bearing the Nauru government coat of arms
Screenshot of the refugee resettlement document bearing the Nauru government coat of arms. Photograph: Guardian

A batch of determinations, affecting at least 60 people each time, will then be made on a monthly basis. This detail was announced by the immigration minister, Scott Morrison, earlier in April.

The document states that asylum seekers who are deemed to be refugees will be “settled in Nauru for a period of up to five years”. It also informs asylum seekers that they can “still decide to return home at any time”.

However, refugees will also be warned that if they break any Nauruan law while awaiting their determination they will be considered “not of good character” and potentially denied settlement. Significantly this includes “any protest activity”.

“Even if you are found to be a refugee you may not be settled in the Nauru community if you are not of good character,” the document warns.

If they are found to be a refugee, a detainee will be assigned a “settlement caseworker” to help them find accommodation, and with health, education and cultural orientation services, the document says. The Nauruan government is promising to help refugees start small businesses.

Several locations are being prepared in Nauru for the resettlement of refugees, Guardian Australia understands.

Asylum seekers who are found to not be refugees will be able to appeal the decision, although no legal representation will be provided.

A spokesman for Morrison’s office said water supply had been affected by a water pump going out of service. “The issue has now been resolved and water supply delivery to Nauru facilities are back in place. At no stage did the centre run out of water.”

A Nauru source said water shortages had plagued the detention centre for a week. “The water has completely cut out,” the source said. While asylum seekers have had access to drinking water, they have been unable to shower, or wash clothes.

Flooding in places was said to be “at knee height”, preventing some staff from entering the facility.

Earlier in April a dengue fever outbreak among staff and asylum seekers resulted in more criticism that the detention centre was not a safe place to hold detainees.

Since then Guardian Australia has revealed serious allegations that security staff have assaulted asylum-seeker children in the camp, and that an unexploded second world war bomb had been found in the camp housing families.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/27/nauru-refugees-to-be-given-five-year-work-visas

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Hundreds of migrant children behind bars in Indonesia

April 27, 2014

Hundreds of migrant children behind bars in Indonesia

A boy in his room at the shelter for unaccompanied minors in Jakarta.

IRIN/Jakarta/Makassar
Saleem Ali* was just 13 when his mother decided that paying strangers to smuggle him through several countries in the hope of reaching Australia was safer than keeping him with her and his sisters in Quetta, southwestern Pakistan.
The family had sought sanctuary in Quetta from the persecution they faced in Afghanistan as Shia Hazaras but, according to Ali, “my brother was killed by terrorists and (my mother) didn’t want the same to happen to me.”
Raising the smugglers’ fee was difficult, he added. “She had to borrow the money.”
Another brother had made it to Australia a year earlier using the same route that Ali’s smugglers used through Thailand, Malaysia and, finally, Indonesia.
“I was very scared,” Ali told IRIN. “I travelled with strangers.” He assumed, though, that he would soon join his brother in Australia.
Instead, his journey ended at one of two shelters for unaccompanied migrant children in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital.
He was transferred there five months ago after registering with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) soon after arriving in the country. By then, Australia had implemented Operation Sovereign Borders and fewer smugglers’ boats were departing from Indonesia, while those that did were intercepted and turned back.
According to UNHCR, about 5% of the more than 10,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia are
so-called unaccompanied minors — children who have made often long and perilous journeys without a parent or guardian to care for them.
Indonesian law makes no provision for such children and although the country has ratified the UN Convention on Rights of the Child, which obliges it to assign guardians to unaccompanied children, it has not done so.
Ali was fortunate to end up at the shelter. Currently, about 100 unaccompanied minors, most of them from Afghanistan, but also from Myanmar and a handful of other nationalities, are being held at 13 immigration detention centres across Indonesia, while a further 264 children are in detention with their families, according to UNHCR.
Without guardianship, some children remain in detention for extended periods until space opens up in one of only three shelters.  Ghulam Rahimi*, 17, is an Afghan refugee from Iran. He was one of 25 unaccompanied minors detained in one room at the immigration detention centre in Makassar on Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island.
The detention centre in Makassar on Sulawesi Island is said to be one of the better ones.
Detainees are not confined to their rooms except at night time, they are allowed to cook their own food and many of them have cell phones they use to stay in touch with family.
Nevertheless, said the centre’s director, Huntal Hamonangan, “Our detention centre was not created for unaccompanied minors and families.”
When IRIN visited, 25 unaccompanied minors, mostly teenage boys from Afghanistan, were sharing one room. “It’s very hot and it’s so crowded that we can’t turn over at night,” said one of the boys, who has already been there for seven months.
A 2013 report by Human Rights Watch described the arbitrary detention of migrant children in Indonesia in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions for months or even years as having a severe impact on their physical and mental health, with many experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
In some cases, minors share cells with adults who sexually abuse them, said Fahra Amiroeddin, deputy programme manager at Church World Service (CWS), which manages the two Jakarta shelters in partnership with UNHCR.
A number of child migrants interviewed for the Human Rights Watch report said they had experienced beatings by immigration guards or adult detainees while in detention.
“The guards beat us and punished us for no reason,” said Jalil, 18, from Pakistan, and who was just 16 when he was taken to a detention centre in Bali following a failed attempt to reach Australia in a smugglers’ boat.
He described conditions at the detention centre where he spent the next year as “dangerous”.
He told IRIN: “The guards beat us and punished us for no reason.” When he and some other detainees went on a hunger strike to protest their incarceration, the guards beat his cell mate so badly that he was “in bed for a month”.
The Human Rights Watch report alleges that an Afghan migrant died after he was severely beaten by guards at an immigration detention centre in Pontianak in 2012 following an escape attempt.
Three other asylum seekers who had tried to escape with him were also hospitalised, including a 17-year-old unaccompanied minor.
Ten employees at the centre subsequently received 10-month prison sentences for assault, but the report said, “The government has not launched a systematic review of physical abuse in the immigration detention system,” nor has a complaints mechanism for detainees been put in place.
After three months, Jalil was interviewed by UNHCR and a month later he was granted refugee status, but he spent another seven months in detention before being transferred to one of the CWS shelters in Jakarta.
Although UNHCR can request the release of unaccompanied minors from detention, their release depends on finding somewhere safe to accommodate them. Besides the CWS shelters, the only other shelter in Medan, North Sumatra, is operated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in conjunction with the department of social welfare.
“We have limited space,” said CWS programme manager Dino Satria, noting that their two shelters are currently accommodating 70 boys, more than half of whom were transferred there after a period in detention (female unaccompanied minors are rare but CWS has placed one with a foster family and another at a government-run safe house).
“It’s good for me (here) because I can study and wait for resettlement,” said Abdul Fatun*, 17, from Myanmar, who arrived at one of the shelters a few weeks ago after a 10-month stint in detention.
In fact, opportunities to study are mainly limited to language classes and activities offered at the shelter.
“Accessing formal education is a big problem because most can’t speak Bahasa (Indonesia’s official language) and that’s a requirement for schools here,” said Satria. Fatun’s chances of resettlement are also slim.
In 2013, only five of the shelters’ residents were resettled. “Most are just waiting to turn 18, then they have to move out,” Satria said, adding that IOM usually offers them accommodation in refugee housing that it manages in a number of locations in Jakarta.
Jalil is staying in one such building where he passes the time studying English. After nearly 18 months in Indonesia, there is a good possibility he will be resettled in the USA.
“I’ve done the interview, I’m just waiting for medical clearance,” he said.
UNHCR grants refugee status in about 75 to 85% of cases in Indonesia. For the relatively small number of unaccompanied minors whose applications are rejected, options are very limited.
Deportation is rarely used by Indonesia’s immigration authorities. In a small number of cases — just three in 2013 — IOM helps them to return home voluntarily.
*All names changed.

Source: http://www.gulf-times.com/asean-philippines/188/details/390017/hundreds-of-migrant-children-behind-bars-in-indonesia

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Asylum seeker boat turn-back questions going unanswered by Government, says UNHCR

April 23, 2014

Image Source: Google Images

The United Nations refugee agency has asked Australia to prove it is not breaching the Refugee Convention with its policy of turning back asylum seeker boats.

Speaking in Jakarta, the UNHCR’s regional representative says the Australian Government has not responded to the UN’s concerns about the policies.

The request for information was made in January.

UNHCR regional representative James Lynch says people from seven boats that have been returned to Indonesia recently told the UN agency they made it to Australian land or at least its territorial waters.

He says if that is true, Australia’s responsibility is to allow them to be processed as asylum seekers.

Mr Lynch says it is significant that thousands of asylum seekers arrived in Australia until late last year but it is not a crisis by world standards.

I think when you sit and listen to what countries in the region like Iraq are dealing with, or Jordan or Lebanon, it’s hard to see it [Australia’s situation] as a crisis.

UNHCR representative James Lynch

“We have in Syria 6 million either internally displaced or refugees and they have found themselves in the neighbouring countries,” Mr Lynch said.

“A country like Iraq, which has its own internal problems, has been able to accept 250,000 Syrian refugees.

“I think when you sit and listen to what countries in the region like Iraq are dealing with, or Jordan or Lebanon, it’s hard to see it [Australia’s situation] as a crisis.”

Mr Lynch has been attending a two-day meeting about protecting asylum seekers at sea. It attracted delegates from 13 countries, including Australia, and was co-hosted by Indonesia and the United Nations refugee agency.

He says the UNHCR understands Australia wants to stop people-smuggling networks and prevent deaths at sea but it needs to comply with its international obligations.

“There are obligations as a signatory to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 protocol, which say: if you intercept in your territorial waters, you should allow those in need of protection to have access to the asylum system,” he said.

Questions over boats turned back

Mr Lynch says the UNHCR has been told seven boats have been turned back.

“People on the boats have said to us that they either landed or were in Australian territorial waters,” he said.

“We have written to the Australian Government, expressing our concern, and would like to hear their side of the story.

“We don’t have evidence on the other side; we only have the accounts that we’ve heard from people who were on the boat that say that they were in Australian territorial waters.”

We’re talking about a secondary movement of [asylum seekers] who are coming from halfway around the world. We’re not talking about people just walking straight across one border.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says he disagrees with the UNHCR’s criticism of the Federal Government’s policy.

“They’ve always opposed our turn-back policy,” Mr Morrison told Sky News.

“We’re talking about a secondary movement of [those] who are coming from halfway around the world.

“We’re not talking about people just walking straight across one border.

“The issue we’ve had with the UNHCR as a Coalition is a lack of action on secondary movement and people taking advantage of the convention.”

But Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles says the UN agency is right to criticise the Government’s turn-back policy.

Mr Marles told Sky News that the Government needs to provide more information.

“We don’t know as an Australian public what is going on on the high seas,” he said.

“It comes back to this question that this is a secretive Government who is not telling the Australian people what their policies are and so we can’t be sure if the Australian Government is engaged in the unauthorised movements of peoples across borders.”

The UNHCR says Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s office has not responded to questions about whether a boat reached Australian territory in January, and if so, when he was made aware of it.

I would think that if you have lived up to your obligations and stand prepared to honour those obligations, you would want to do an investigation to show that you are not in violation.

UNHCR representative James Lynch

“I would think that if you have lived up to your obligations and stand prepared to honour those obligations, you would want to do an investigation to show that you are not in violation,” Mr Lynch said.

“They would want to show that they have not in any way violated their obligations under the convention.”

The official summary of discussions as released by the co-chairs of the meeting recommends that countries “ensure the full promotion and protection of the rights of rescued or intercepted persons at sea and upon disembarkation in accordance with relevant international obligations”.

Indonesia’s director-general of multilateral affairs, Hasan Kleib, says Australia’s policies were not discussed in the workshop as it was focused on protecting so-called “irregular migrants” at sea.

A spokeswoman for Mr Morrison says the Federal Government will continue to use its current border protection policies because they are clearly working.

She says there have been no successful people-smuggling ventures to Australia in four months and the Government’s strong stand is benefiting the region.

Mr Lynch strongly commended Indonesia for holding an international meeting focussed on protecting asylum seekers.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-23/un-on-asylum-seekers/5405688

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Christian leaders protesting detention of children arrested at Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s office

April 15. 2014

Asylum policy protest

The Christian activists in Julie Bishop’s office with a photograph of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati. PHOTO: Aaron Bunch (http://www.aaronbunch.com.au/client/lovemakesaway/index.php)

Eleven protesters, including priests and pastors, have been removed by police from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s office in Perth.

The group of Christian leaders was protesting about the 1,138 children being kept in detention centres on Nauru and Christmas Island.

They said they would not be silent until the government gives a release date for the child detainees.

While inside the office they conducted a prayer vigil around a photograph of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati, who who died in a riot on Manus Island in February.

Police said nine men and two women had been taken to the Perth Watch House and would be charged with trespass.

Police allege they refused to leave the premises when asked to do so.

Protesters outside the offices said those inside were happy to be arrested for the cause.

Protester Kris Kingwell said the group feels it is their role as Christians to speak for people who cannot.

“We’re timing it because it’s the beginning of holy week in the lead up to Easter,” she said.

“As Christians we are responsible for loving and caring, for the care of those who can’t care for themselves, and for advocating for those who don’t have a voice of their own.”

Reverend Chris Bedding kept repeating “1,138 children in immigration detention” as he was led to a waiting police van.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-14/protesters-arrested-at-julie-bishop27s-office/5388996?section=wa

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Filed under Human Rights and Refugee Activists, Public Reaction/Perception Towards Asylum Seekers