Monday, September 28, 2015

Australia doesn't want the UN looking at its gulags

Australia's Pacific gulags on Nauru and Manus Island are horrific places, where detainees are assaulted, raped and abused. They're so horrific that the Australian government doesn't want the UN looking at them:

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants says a lack of cooperation from the Australian government has forced him to postpone an official fact-finding mission

Francois Crépeau was scheduled to visit Australia for two weeks to gather first-hand information about the situation of asylum seekers detained in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Nauru, on the invite of the Australian government.

But, in a statement, he said the new Border Force Act, which sanctions detention centre workers who disclose information about detention centres with up to two years in prison, would impact his visit as "it serves to discourage people from fully disclosing information relevant to my mandate".

Apparently they won't facilitate access to the gulags, and they won't guarantee that people who talk to him about them won't be prosecuted for it. Which makes it crystal clear that they are afraid of what he might learn and what he might say.

This isn't the behaviour we expect from a modern democracy which respects human rights. But I think its clear now that Australia can no longer be described in that way. We should structure our diplomacy and foreign policy accordingly.