REFUGEE DISGRACE March 24, 2014Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Human Rights.
The treatment of refugees in off shore detention continues to witness disturbing developments. Australia has now become party to likely violations of human rights, including murder. The Prime Minister does not know what is going on, and the Cabinet process appears broken.
It is useful to reflect that the former government of Kevin Rudd set up “new arrangements” which Sharon Bird explained on 26 August 2013:
. . . asylum seekers who now arrive by boat will have their claims for asylum processed in either PNG or Nauru, and if they are found to be refugees will be settled in PNG or Nauru.
Asylum seekers will be transferred to either PNG or Nauru following a short health, security and identify checks in Australia, and will be housed in regional processing centres that are managed and administered by the host country under local law with support from Australia.”
Implicitly the administration of local law would be acceptable to Australia and consistent Australia’s international legal obligations, including the relevant conventions on human rights and refugees. The argument concerning whether people are judged to be refugees or “economic migrants” is completely bogus. They are brothers and sisters. They have rights as human beings. The cruelty that the Australian Government is countenancing is evidence of moral decrepitude, if not criminal behavior.
It is clear that the former Government set the conditions for the asylum seekers incarceration. The current Government is responsible for consenting and supporting the PNG Government’s actions. In The Sydney Morning Herald, Michael Gordon reports:
The Abbott government was consulted and strongly backed the decision of the Papua New Guinea government to shut down a human rights inquiry into the Manus Island detention centre, Fairfax Media has been told.
PNG’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Rimbink Pato, has also confirmed that the two governments would move to deny access of a human rights lawyer to the centre on Monday.
“It’s a joint effort. We’re the best judges in terms of what’s happening on the ground, but we’re in concert because this is a partnership. We’re together,” he said in an exclusive interview. He said Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop shared his concern that the inquiry carried dangers and should be challenged. “They were concerned as well that we should do something like this. It’s a joint thing.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott appeared unaware of the joint nature of the move, insisting to reporters on Saturday that PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had not flagged it with him when they met on Friday.
Mr Pato said the government was moving on the basis that Justice David Cannings, a former human rights lawyer, was presiding over the inquiry he had initiated and that the inquiry was calling experts without complying with “proper processes under PNG law”.
The PNG Government acting in concert with the Australian Government would deny access Mr Jay Williams , a refugee lawyer, access to the facility and to abort any open inquiry into the riot by employees of the private prison contractor, the murder of an asylum seeker, Reza Barati, and the unsanitary, inhumane conditions of incarceration.
The Prime Minister is either completely vacuous, for example describing the PNG legal system as “robust”, or he is not across the briefs. It appears that the Immigration Minister and Foreign Minister are calling the shots. The Prime Minister, by this report, accepted the pre-emptive judgement of the PNG PM that “most asylum seekers interviewed so far were not “genuine refugees” but “economic migrants” “.
There does not seem to be the rule of law in process, but rather the rule of violence, with the express approval of the Australian Government. The so-called full inquiry promised by the Immigration Minister is lost in the process and intentionally so. The PNG police do not seem to report expeditiously to a coronal inquiry concerning the circumstances of Mr Berati’s death. The PM of PNG is in cohorts with Australian ministers to minimize accountability and responsibility. The Prime Minister seems oblivious to reality, and in this case it is not related to climate change.
Information is minimal. The possibility of independent reporting of the facts and circumstances are been closed off. Still the ABC was able to reported that shocking conditions inside the Manus Island centre:
The questions that we all now face as Australian citizens, responsible for the well being of our democratic principles and processes are: Do we accept this situation? What are we going to do about it, on the basis that any systematic or consistent violation of human rights is unconscionable?
Leonore Taylor reports on the same developments in The Guardian.
The immigration Minister and every member of Federal Parliament have to live with their consciences. The treatment of children in the refugee facility on Manus Island, and perhaps elsewhere, has it appears crossed the boundary of criminal negligence. Perhaps Scott Morrison should have listened to what the protesters in his office were saying.