‘Cruel’ policy may be in breach of international law

Manus Island regional processing facility in 2012 (Wikipedia-flickr-DIAC)

The International Criminal Court has found offshore processing conditions may constitute a breach of international law, but there is not enough evidence to prosecute the Australian Government over it. Source: SBS News.

By Tom Stayner, SBS News

This detention appears to amount to “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment”, according to the court.

However, the ICC also found the policy has not purposely been designed to “attack” migrants and asylum-seekers.

An ICC prosecutor made the assessment in a formal letter to independent MP Andrew Wilkie responding to his allegations crimes against humanity could have been committed by the Australian Government.

Mr Wilkie has seized on their findings as a “remarkable condemnation” of the “cruelty” of the asylum-seeker policy despite no grounds for prosecution being found.

“We’ve long known that the Government’s response to asylum-seekers has been barbaric, inhumane and expensive,” he said.

“But now there can be no doubt that it also puts Australia in breach of the Rome Statute and guilty of crimes against humanity.”

The ICC provided a detailed response to evidence submitted by Mr Wilkie’s office about life in offshore detention on Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Offshore processing policies in Australia recommenced almost eight years ago under Julia Gillard’s Labor government and have persisted as part of the Coalition’s border protection policies.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton argues the harsh approach deters people smugglers from targeting vulnerable asylum-seekers and many of those who were sent to offshore detention are being resettled through third-country deals.

Mr Wilkie said he first complained to the International Criminal Court five years ago and has been sending the prosecutor evidence ever since.

The number of people held in offshore detention under the Coalition has decreased by 23 per cent since peak levels in 2014, according to figures disclosed in Senate Estimates.

Mr Dutton expects up to 1,000 people to be resettled under a deal with the United States, including about 250 who are yet to depart offshore processing centres.

His office was contacted for comment about the findings of the International Criminal Court.


Offshore detention conditions may constitute a breach of international law, but Australia won’t be prosecuted (SBS News

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