Australia fails asylum seekers, says Amnesty


Australia has ''failed abysmally'' to protect asylum seekers, Amnesty International says in its annual report, released on Thursday morning. The human rights agency also lambasted the ''crisis'' of indigenous incarceration, with Aboriginal people 28 times more likely to be in detention than non-Aboriginals.

Amnesty argued that its research showed why asylum seekers took dangerous journeys to Australia through transit countries like Malaysia, where it said refugees were subjected to arbitrary detention, with harassment and intimidation commonplace.


Amnesty International Australia national director Claire Mallinson said Australia should adopt the same leadership it did in lobbying the United Nations to adopt the global Arms Trade Treaty, designed to stop the shipments of weapons that could be used to commit atrocities, in its immigration policies.


''The Australian Government showed real leadership on stopping guns travelling over borders, but it has failed abysmally when it comes to protecting those who are fleeing from this very violence,'' Ms Mallinson said.


''The appalling treatment of asylum seekers - the majority of whom have fled conflict or post-conflict emergencies in Iran, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Iraq - now find themselves languishing in limbo in remote islands living the 'out of sight out of mind' nightmare that the current government has introduced, re-enacting the devastating policies of the past.''


The agency said that for a regional approach to managing the flows of asylum seekers to work, it must provide for the legal recognition of asylum seekers and refugees, and give them access to medical support and education in the countries in which they were housed. It argued that Australia should continue to increase its humanitarian intake.


The report also raised serious concerns about the plight of indigenous Australians. Amnesty International Australia said that for Australia to be considered ''consistent and credible on the world stage'', it must urgently address the incarceration rates of Aboriginal people.


Adult Aboriginal people are 14 times more likely to be in jail than non-Aboriginals, and young indigenous people comprised 59 per cent of the national juvenile detention rates, despite Aboriginal people comprising about 2 per cent of the total population.