UN: Oz’s PNG refugee camp inadequate
SYDNEY (AFP) – A United Nations report Monday criticised Australia’s immigration camp on Papua New Guinea, warning living conditions are harsh and asylum-seekers’ detention arbitrary.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees called for no more children to be sent to the camp on remote Manus Island, which was established as part of Australia’s plan to ship refugees offshore to deter more from coming.
In its report, the UNHCR warned of “very significant inadequacies in the legal and operational framework governing the transfer, treatment and processing” of asylum-seekers.
Detaining asylum-seekers on a mandatory and indefinite basis, without possibility for review, amounted to “arbitrary detention which is inconsistent with international human rights law”, it added.
“The key failing is that there are in place no legal frameworks for the processing of refugee claims,” UNHCR regional representative Richard Towle told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The Australian government said it was committed to working with the UNHCR, which has a long-standing opposition to offshore processing, and would do so in regards to the processing centre on Manus.
“We continue to work closely with the PNG government regarding the assessment of asylum claims. Processing has not yet begun, but will occur in due course,” a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor said.
Papua New Guinea had assured Australia that asylum claims would be assessed in line with the Refugee Convention, she added.