UN migrant rights expert puts off Australia visit over 'unacceptable' restrictions
25-Sep-2015


UN migrant rights expert puts off Australia visit over 'unacceptable' restrictions

Geneva

An independent UN expert on migrant rights said Friday he had postponed a visit to Australia citing restrictions on his access to detention centres, and concerns people he met with could face reprisals.

 Francois Crepeau said he had been invited by the Australian government to visit from September 27 to October 9 to gather first-hand information about the situation of migrants and asylum seekers in the country and in its off-shore detention centres based in neighbouring Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

 But in preparing for his visit, he said he had discovered a provision in a new law making it punishable with two years in prison for detention centre workers who disclose "protected information".

 The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants said he had been concerned this would discourage people he met with from fully disclosing information.

 "This threat of reprisals with persons who would want to cooperate with me on the occasion of this official visit is unacceptable," he said in a statement, adding that he had asked the Australian government for a written guarantee that no one he met with would be sanctioned or intimidated.

 "As the Australian government was not prepared to give the written assurances required ... it was not possible for me to carry out the visit in my capacity as a UN independent expert," he said.

 He also said he was "extremely disappointed" that the government had not granted him access to any offshore detention centres, despite months of efforts to gain its cooperation.

 Crepeau pointed out that under his mandate, he needed to have free access to all detention centres, and that access to the offshore centres was particularly important "given the international human rights and humanitarian law concerns regarding them."

 Australia's immigration policies, hardened by the conservative government that took power in 2013 to include the physical turnback of boats, have long been criticised.

 All asylum seekers coming by boat to Australia are sent to camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru and ultimately denied resettlement in Australia even if they are found to be genuine refugees.

 Rights groups and refugee advocates have claimed asylum seekers are subject to indefinite detention in inadequate conditions, with particular concerns about the safety of children.

 Australia's new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull admitted earlier this week he had concerns about asylum seekers being held in Pacific island camps, but gave no indication of immediate change to the hardline policy.



Follow us on


Related News

Pope Francis crowns New York visit with public mass
Sep 25

Pope Francis crowns New York visit with public mass

New York Pope Francis crowned a packed tour of New York on Friday by celebrating mass at Madison Square Garden, after greeting crowds in Central Park and praying for world peace at the 9/11 Memorial. Around 20,000 people packed into MSG, New York's premier concert venue and home of the Knicks basketball team, after...

Read More
Seattle bus crash victims identified, families flown in
Sep 25

Seattle bus crash victims identified, families flown in

Seattle  Investigators on Friday combed through the wreckage of two buses that crashed in Seattle, as authorities released the names of the four foreign students who died in the accident.  Among the fatalities was a 49-year-old Austrian woman, Claudia Derschmidt, who had just arrived in the West Coast...

Read More
Sarzozy backs 'united Spain' amid Catalan independence bid
Sep 25

Sarzozy backs 'united Spain' amid Catalan independence bid

Barcelona  Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy appealed for a "united Spain" in Barcelona on Friday as campaigning wrapped up for a regional election in Catalonia framed as an indirect vote on independence.  "Europe needs Spain, a united Spain, a strong Spain, a Spain that is standing up," he told a...

Read More
When VW catches a cold, German town Wolfsburg gets pneumonia
Sep 25

When VW catches a cold, German town Wolfsburg gets pneumonia

Wolfsburg  From the local museum to the main football stadium to the theme park down the road, everything in the German town of Wolfsburg has something of Volkswagen.  As the German auto giant slides deeper into an emissions cheating scandal, the little northern city home to the group's headquarters is...

Read More
China's Xi confident of 'healthy' economic growth
Sep 25

China's Xi confident of 'healthy' economic growth

Washington  Chinese President Xi Jinping said Friday he was confident that his country would post "healthy" growth in the future, amid international worries about a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.  Xi told a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama after White House talks that...

Read More
Pope arrives at UN, to give major speech
Sep 25

Pope arrives at UN, to give major speech

United Nations  Pope Francis on Friday began a closely watched visit to the United Nations, where he will deliver a wide-ranging speech at the start of a full day in the Big Apple ending with a mass at Madison Square Garden.  The leader of the world's more than one billion Roman Catholics arrived at the UN...

Read More
Over 10,000 migrants enter Hungary in new record
Sep 24

Over 10,000 migrants enter Hungary in new record

Budapest  A new record of 10,046 migrants entered Hungary on Wednesday, mostly via Croatia, Hungarian police said Thursday as refugees continued to pour through the western Balkans bound for northern Europe.  A total of 9,939 migrants entered from Croatia, while 102 crossed from Serbia, police said. The...

Read More
Mexico leader meets with parents of 43 missing students
Sep 24

Mexico leader meets with parents of 43 missing students

Mexico City  The parents of 43 Mexican students who disappeared last year met with President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday to demand that authorities solve a case that has bedeviled his administration.  The parents arrived for the meeting in a Mexico City museum some 18 hours into a 43-hour fast that they...

Read More
Pope Francis and the little girl who could
Sep 24

Pope Francis and the little girl who could

Washington As Francis drew nearer and nearer in his open-sided popemobile and the crowd in Washington whooped, squealed and quivered, the little girl with black pigtails spotted her chance. Her name was Sofia Cruz, and her story soon went around the world: how a five-year-old had the bravado to deliver a message to...

Read More
After warm White House welcome, pope heads to Congress
Sep 24

After warm White House welcome, pope heads to Congress

Washington  After bonding with US President Barack Obama on progressive themes like climate change, Pope Francis on Thursday addresses Congress, where conservatives embrace his moral authority but are less comfortable with the pontiff's more political preachings.  On Wednesday, his first full day in the...

Read More