Aus­tralia de­nies ‘sys­tem­atic tor­ture’ of refugees

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

SYDNEY: Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Malcolm Turn­bull has re­jected claims by Amnesty International that the abuse and ill treat­ment of refugees and asy­lum seek­ers on Nauru amounts to “de­lib­er­ate” and “sys­tem­atic tor­ture”.

“I re­ject that claim to­tally ... it is ab­so­lutely false,” Turn­bull told lo­cal ABC ra­dio yes­ter­day.

In a dev­as­tat­ing re­port re­leased late Mon­day, Amnesty ac­cused Aus­tralia of run­ning an open-air prison on the Pa­cific is­land na­tion, where more than 1,000 asy­lum seek­ers and refugees have been lan­guish­ing for the past three years.

Aus­tralia has in­ter­cepted all asy­lum seek­ers trav­el­ling to the coun­try by sea since 2013, ei­ther turn­ing their boats back or pro­cess­ing them off­shore in Nauru or on Pa­pua New Guinea’s Manus Is­land.

Anna Nei­s­tat, Amnesty’s senior di­rec­tor for re­search, said in Sydney yes­ter­day that the treat­ment of those peo­ple by the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment amounted to “tor­ture”.

“We don’t come to these con­clu­sions eas­ily. The na­ture of the harm caused, the sys­tem­atic (pol­icy) – this is not an iso­lated in­ci­dent, the fact that this is done de­lib­er­ately with a clear pur­pose (of cre­at­ing) a de­ter­rence to pun­ish.”

“All of these el­e­ments taken to­gether leads us to con­clude that the treat­ment amounts to tor­ture,” she said.

Turn­bull yes­ter­day re­it­er­ated that his gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to bor­der pro­tec­tion was “com­pas­sion­ate” and “strong”.

“What we’ve been able to do is to stop the boats, no deaths at sea. We have re­duced the chil­dren in de­ten­tion from al­most 2000 when we came into of­fice to zero,” he said.

But Nei­s­tat said that was “tech­ni­cally not true”, since peo­ple were still dy­ing in international wa­ters, just not near Aus­tralia.

“They are sav­ing lives but at what costs? As one refugee (in Nauru) said they are dy­ing a thou­sand times ev­ery day.” – dpa

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