Drawing on our experience monitoring immigration detention of asylum seekers, the Commission has made a submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works about the proposal to build a permanent regional processing centre on Manus Island.
Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs said, “The Commission opposes the transfer of asylum seekers to third countries for processing of their refugee claims unless human rights are fully safeguarded. We hold serious human rights concerns about the Australian Government’s current third country processing regime.”
“However, if the Australian Government intends to continue to transfer asylum seekers to Manus Island, an appropriate facility should be established in order to ensure that those asylum seekers are treated in accordance with international standards,” she said.
Professor Triggs said this was particularly important given concerns about reported conditions in the temporary facility which is currently housing asylum seekers, including families and children, who have been transferred from Australia.
The Commission’s submission contains four recommendations. They are:
1: The Australian Government should cease transferring asylum seekers to Manus Island. Asylum seekers who arrive in Australia should have their claims for protection processed under Australian law in a timely and efficient manner. They should be transferred into the Australian community unless they have been individually assessed as posing an unacceptable risk that justifies their detention.
2: If the Australian Government intends to continue to transfer asylum seekers to Manus Island, it should establish an appropriate facility to ensure that asylum seekers are treated in accordance with international human rights standards. Asylum seekers currently on Manus Island should be returned to Australia, and no further transfers should take place until an appropriate facility is established.
3: In establishing and operating an appropriate facility for asylum seekers on Manus Island, the Commission’s Human rights standards for immigration detention should be considered and applied.
4: The Manus Island regional processing centre should not be a closed detention centre. It should be designed and operated as an open facility which allows asylum seekers freedom of movement.
The full submission is available at: www.humanrights.gov.au/submissions/manus-island-regional-processing-centre-proposal
The Commission’s Human rights standards for immigration detention are available at: www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/human-rights-standards-immigration-detention