Australians sick of UN lectures: Abbott


The Prime Minister has dismissed another major report criticising Australia's asylum seeker policies, saying Australians are sick of being lectured to.

The Prime Minister has dismissed another major report criticising Australia's asylum seeker policies, saying Australians are sick of being lectured to.

A report, from the UN special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez, has found multiple cases where Australia has breached the international convention against torture.

The UN report focused on concerns about Manus Island, as well as two recently passed bills - which cover visa cancellations and enhanced maritime powers.

"Look, I think Australians are pretty sick of being lectured to," Tony Abbott told reporters in Perth.

"I really think Australians are sick of being lectured to by the United Nations."

This short shrift from the Prime Minister equals his dismissal of last month's Australian Human Rights Commission report into children in immigration detention, which Mr Abbott dismissed as a political, biased stitch-up.

Tony Abbott says the Government deserves praise for its strong border protection policies, such as boat turn backs and the bipartisan policy of offshore detention.

"I think the UN would be much better served by giving credit to the Australian Government for what has been achieved in terms of stopping the boats," Mr Abbott said.

The Federal Opposition says it is an absurd attack on the United Nations.

Labor’s Immigration Spokesman Richard Marles says the report deserves to be treated seriously by the Abbott Government.

“Instead of launching a cheap attack on the report’s author - Tony Abbott should be providing an assurance that all the processing facilities Australia funds are run in a safe, humane and proper manner.” Mr Marles said in a statement.

Juan Mendez’s report, which is to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, is largely a response to violence in February last year which lead to the the death of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati.

It also covers Australia's policy of mandatory and indefinite offshore immigration detention and the ongoing, but substantially reduced number of child detainees.

Juan Mendez found Australia has "failed to provide adequate detention conditions; end the practice of detention of children; and put a stop to the escalating violence and tension at the (Manus Island) Regional Processing Centre."

This, he says, "violated the right of the asylum seekers, including children, to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."

Mr Abbott says the conditions on Manus Island are “reasonable, under all the circumstances”.

“All the basic needs of the people on Manus Island are being met,” he said.

"... Everyone's needs for food, for clothing, for shelter, for safety are being more than met."

But Human Rights Law Centre director of legal advocacy Daniel Webb says the report damages Australia's standing on the world stage. especially as Australia is seeking election to the UN Human Right's Council.

"This is a very clear and very forceful finding from an independent UN expert," Mr Webb said.

 "That kind of finding with that kind of clarity and that kind of force is really unprecedented."

The Refugee Council of Australia says the Federal Government must address the substance of the report and refrain from attacking the credibility of the author.

“Juan Méndez is a foremost human rights expert, having previously served as Special Advisor to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide,” the Council’s Paul Power said in a statement.

“He was himself subjected to torture during administrative detention under Argentina’s military dictatorship.” 

Australia is certainly not only country to be cited by UN special rapporteur on torture, so too is the US, the UK, Indonesia and Fiji.

It comes as the Moss Review is due to deliver its report tomorrow into charity workers and allegedly abused asylum seekers on Nauru.

Source SBS

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