Australia breaches UN on torture: expert

Asylum seekers stand behind a fence in Oscar compound at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea, (AAP ImageEoin Blackwell) (Source AAP)

An independent expert has found aspects of Australia's asylum-seeker policies breached the United Nations Convention against Torture. Aspects of Australia's asylum-seeker policies have breached the United Nations Convention against Torture, an independent expert has found. A report addressing concerns about Manus Island, as well as recent amendments to maritime laws, is due to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday. It was prepared by Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture.


Human Rights Law Centre director of legal advocacy Daniel Webb says the report finds detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island, and conditions at the centre, violate the convention.

"The torture convention prohibits subjecting people to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," he said in a statement.

"The report confirms that by leaving people locked up indefinitely in appalling conditions on a remote island, Australia is failing to meet this basic standard."

New laws broadening maritime powers, introduced last year, also came under scrutiny.

Australia is found to have violated the convention with "arbitrary detention and refugee determination at sea, without access to lawyers".

The report is also critical of the government's incomplete responses to some allegations.

Mr Mendez, a lawyer and human rights activist, was tasked with investigating alleged violations of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment around the world.