Australia may be on the list of the ten “happiest countries” of the world, but latest developments suggest that the country’s government might be carrying out human rights violations on a large scale against asylum seekers at a regional detention facility.
In a recent interview with SBS's Dateline, Liz Thompson, a former migration agent, claims she was instructed to lie to refugees about the processing system of their illegal status.
She worked on Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea – a country which is home to a number of Australian detention centers.
Australia's legal responsibility towards refugees detained on Manus Island has come under scrutiny after one man was killed and others were critically injured during a riot in the asylum on February 17, 2014.
Since the 1990s, the Aussie government has detained all unauthorized arrivals until they are either granted a visa, or deported.
As the number of refugees travelling to Australian shores in fishing boats soared in recent years, the policies became more severe, especially under Tony Abbotts’s rule.
His draconian and much-criticized “turn back the boats” program allows Australia to use its naval forces to forcibly tow boats back to Indonesian waters.
Last year, in a joint letter addressed to Abbott, , 138 organizations called on the Australian federal government to end the practice of describing asylum seekers arriving by boat as “illegal maritime arrivals”.
However, given the fact that the Aussie PM drafted a controversial Codeof Conduct for asylum seekers in January, threatening to deport them over trivial offences such as spitting and swearing, it seems people who accuse him of abusing his power are right.
The Australian Government Is Lying About “Indefinite Detention”
Thompson described the administration of the Manus Island detention centre as 'ridiculous' and claimed she was told to tell detainees their only option was resettlement in Papua New Guinea.
“They (detainees) watch the news, they read the newspapers, they watch what’s going around in the camp, they know there’s no decision from the Papua New Guinean Government on resettlement," she told Dateline's host Mark Davis.
"So what that means is… you’re never getting out of this camp, its indefinite detention."
Detainees riot at the Manus Island Detention Centre February 16, 2014 in this still image taken from video. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has released video of clashes that took place at the Manus Island Detention Centre – Reuters
Moreover, Australia, which is ranked among the top 30 countries in the world as far as freedom of press is concerned, has actively started blocking media personnel from entering the detention centres.
Rory Callinan, a prominent investigative journalist and reporter wrote about his bitter experience in the Sydney Morning Herald when hewent to Manus Island for covering the February 17 incident.
“Within hours of arriving, staff from G4S, the private security company employed by the Australian Government to manage the centre, had manhandled Nick [his colleague], confiscated his camera and forced him to delete photographs in order to censor news.”