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A sorry day for human rights and compassion as Parliament approves indefinite detention

The Australian Greens today condemned the passing of the Nauru designation instrument as the Government and Coalition voted down Greens amendments that would have limited the harm caused to refugees by the Gillard government's new Pacific ‘Solution'.

"Labor and the Coalition have given the green light to dump children, unaccompanied minors and pregnant women in prison camps on Nauru indefinitely with no protections, against the expert advice of humanitarian organisations including the UN" said Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

"Rather than caring for refugees Labor and the Coalition have lined up together to pass laws that will cost vulnerable people's lives, inflict damage to children and fail to stop desperate asylum seekers taking boat journeys.

"The truth is neither Labor or Tony Abbott can be trusted to treat refugees humanely, and today they have joined forces to make sure they don't have to.

"Both Labor and the Coalition voted against putting a time limit on how long Australia will leave refugees in detention and have refused to establish an independent health panel to monitor the welfare and care of those left on Nauru.

"The UNHCR and the Houston Panel both listed key welfare protections that are the absolute minimum necessary to care for refugees who have their applications processed offshore, but those details and protections are non-existent in the designation that Parliament has today approved.

"The Greens and refugee experts know that we can protect and care for refugees by giving them hope that they can be safely resettled directly from Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan without boarding a boat.

"The boats are still coming because the punishment of being dumped on Nauru does not deter desperate people. What has the Australian government done to get out on the ground in Indonesia and let people know that they have the chance of a safer pathway and a visa if they don't take a boat?

"The Greens have always said that punitive offshore dumping will not work as a deterrent but giving people safer pathways than a risky boat will.

"The Gillard's Pacific ‘Solution' is a cruel hoax that won't save lives, will inflict more suffering to refugees, flouts the Refugee Convention, and will cost Australian tax-payers billions of dollars.

Media contact:  Ali Neyle 0427 604 760 


These are protections recommended by the UNHCR which are not adequately addressed by the Nauru designation and arrangements

Source: Letter dated 5 September 2012 to Minister Bowen from High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres

  • The right to asylum (involving a fair adjudication of claims) FAIL
  • Respect for the principle of family unity and best interests of the child FAIL
  • Humane reception conditions, including protection against arbitrary detention FAIL
  • Progressive access the Convention rights and adequate and dignified means of existence, with special emphasis on education, access to health care and a right to employment FAIL
  • Special procedures for vulnerable individuals with clear pre-transfer assessments by qualified staff (including best interest determinations for children, especially unaccompanied and separate children) and support for victims of torture/trauma or suffering from disabilities (including aged/disabled) FAIL
  • Durable solutions for refugees within a reasonable period. FAIL


These are protections recommended by the Houston Panel which are not adequately addressed by the Nauru designation and arrangements

Source: Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers, August 2012 Paragraph 3.46

  • Treatment consistent with human rights standards (including no arbitrary detention); FAIL
  • Appropriate accommodation; FAIL
  • Appropriate physical and mental health services; FAIL
  • Access to educational and vocational training programs; FAIL
  • Application assistance during the preparation of asylum claims; FAIL
  • An appeal mechanism against negative decisions on asylum applications that would enable merits review by more senior officials and NGO representatives with specific expertise; FAIL
  • Monitoring of care and protection arrangements by a representative group drawn from government and civil society in Australia and Nauru; FAIL



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