Today’s announcement to open Manus Island is yet another another ill considered plan which will further punish vulnerable people, including women and children.
There’s no reason to believe that conditions will be any different to those on Nauru in the short-term. It’s reckless that the Federal Government is sending families and children there with no appropriate accommodation.
“Once again as with Nauru, the details on Manus Island are sketchy and this is unacceptable when the lives of vulnerable people hang in the balance”, says Amnesty International’s Campaigns Director, Andrew Beswick.
“Detaining women and children, in temporary accommodation, on an island far flung from Australia’s shores is morally deplorable and flies in the face of our international obligations.
“Australia has the capacity to process vulnerable people on the mainland, in a timely fashion and not punish them for seeking a safer life.
“This milestone marks yet another attempt by the Federal Government to create an elaborate plan to punish vulnerable people for seeking safety and protection and squibs our responsibilities under the UN Refugee Convention."
Amnesty International is also concerned by the announcement that those asylum seekers who will be processed in the community will have no working, which could repeat the impoverishment and uncertainty created under the discredited Temporary Protection Visa system.
“This is another punitive measure – there is no average time for resettlement for asylum seekers in transit countries. With no detail with how the policy will apply in practice, what credibility does this policy have?
“The decision to apply the no advantage principle to asylum seekers in detention centres and community detention in Australia is undoubtedly bound to fail, just like all other previous measures based on deterrence have failed.
“The minister's announcements leave nothing but questions - how many years will innocent people be subjected to such an obscure policy? How will this apply? This is indefinite detention that is punitive on every level.
“Introducing policies like offshore processing, with the ‘no advantage’ rule will not make refugees safer but rather undermine prospects for a genuine regional solution for refugees.
“This announcement undermines the Government's attempts to work cooperatively with Asian governments as it sends a resounding message to the region that protecting refugee rights is something to be avoided at all costs," said Andrew Beswick.
Amnesty International would like to assert that its approach to the issue of asylum seekers in Australia is the legal approach whilst the Government continues to evade its international responsibilities under the UN Refugee Convention.