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MANUS ISLAND MILLSTONE May 1, 2014

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Human Rights.
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The story of the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in the “concentration camps” on Manus Island will not go away. Conditions on Nauru are also inhumane.

The focus should now be on stopping the brutality. Most recently the
Four Corners report, and other reports suggest there is no exaggeration.

The situation shows the classic escalation of violence, including the depersonalization and dehumanization of the inmates. The inmates on Manus Island, jampacked into there all-male compounds, among strangers have been described as “criminals from Lebanon and Afghanistan”. The Minister has said nothing otherwise, and it seems to the continuing policy of the Government, as it was of the previous government. For example, the processing of applications for asylum has not been a priority, and the Minister is reported as directly saying that none of the inmates would ever see the shores of Australia.

The brutal murder of Reza Berati on 17 February, according to witness reports is a game changer. Then the warehousing of refugees attracted media and first-hand report of the conditions and circumstances of their incarceration. How could it be after two months, the Mr Berati’s autopsy was not followed by an inquest with a subsequent police investigation into his death? The Minister’s response has been to increase the external security of the prison rather than to address the custodial responsibilities and human rights violations of the prisoners.

The implication is clear that PNG, and in particular Manus Island is neither a safe or fit place to hold refugees. Consequently to continue to hold them there may raise questions of criminal negligence, both after and before Mr Berati’s murder and the injuries to other prisoners. The prison should have been closed should have been close prior to the events occurring.

ABC News reports:

Lawyers acting for Manus Island detainees on Wednesday filed an urgent application to the High Court to have witnesses to the death of Reza Berati returned to Australia.

They say local guards at the centre have made death threats against the five witnesses and they should urgently be placed in protective custody in Australia.

The lawyers have also lodged a writ in the High Court, alleging crimes against humanity by both the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments

Furthermore:

In a separate application to the High Court, the lawyers have lodged a habeas corpus writ on behalf of more than 350 detainees on Manus Island.

“A writ of habeas corpus effectively requires the detainer or the person – in this instance, the governments – to bring the detainees before the court and to demonstrate to the court the lawfulness of his or her detention,” Ms Hudson said.

The writ alleges gross human rights violations and international crimes against humanity by the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments, as well as Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

Ms Hudson said the writ alleged the detainees were forcibly deported in violation of article seven of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

“Secondly they claim that they are being arbitrarily and indefinitely detained for five or more years,” Ms Hudson said.

“The other allegation is that they are being involuntarily detained in torturous, inhumane and degrading conditions including being exposed to possible murder, attempted murder, threats to kill, threats of cannibalism, grievous bodily harm and obviously the very unfit living conditions.

“The next allegation is that they are being detained without access to any legal representation or to the right to judicial review or a fair hearing.”

The problem for the people of Australia is that it is not possible to dehumanize others, without subjecting the same processes to ourselves. Have by implicitly and complicitly given the Government permission to treat “the other” without regard to the established legal and human rights precepts given them permission to treat at least some of us in a similar manner?

More inside reporting:

Comments»

1. wmmbb - May 1, 2014

Well, what do you know, I am not alone in describing the refugee and asylum seeker facilities as “concentration camps”. I was applying the literal definition. (After that point, there is no similarity in the articles.)

2. wmmbb - May 1, 2014

I am not sure that there is any real sense of international obligations, I am hoping that the High Court will recognize international agreements, with the imprimatur of the Australian Parliament, as the equivalent of domestic law. This is a link I had meant to embed,) The fact that nation states simply chose to ignore international law has been a disturbing trend, effectively reducing global human rights and obligations. I think of it as the fair go for all.


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