No Hope for Asylum Seekers Indefinitely Detained in Australia's 'Guantanamo Bay'

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By Reissa Su | February 27, 2014 6:55 PM EST

The United Nations has described the asylum seeker processing facility in Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, as Australia's very own "Guantanamo Bay." According to UN's assessment, it finds the Australian government guilty of nearly 150 international law violations for the indefinite detention of asylum seekers.

Reuters
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a joint news conference with Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad January 13, 2014.

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The recent violent riot in Manus Island has overshadowed another group of asylum seekers who are currently facing a bleak future since they have been detailed in Australia. Around 50 asylum seekers are in detention with no definite release date following their negative security assessments.

In 2013, the United Nations has criticised Australia for its cruel and inhumane actions and ruled that indefinite detention was in violation of UN conventions. The UN has ordered the release of the 50 asylum seekers within the week and required Australia to pay them compensation.

The deadline for the UN order has just expired with the Australian government showing no sign of ever following the mandate.

According to Professor Ben Saul from the University of Sydney Law School, one of the asylum seekers in Melbourne Immigration Centre drank bleach in an attempt to end his life, while another man tried electrocuting himself. One man also tried to hang himself using a skipping rope, while another used his own blood to write on the walls.

Professor Saul said that aside from Australia, the only other country that sends people in a "black hole" is the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay.

More criticisms

Australia's policies on asylum seekers, sexual orientation, indigenous affairs, and disability were scrutinised by New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch and found them wanting. The group gave a scathing review of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Coalition government and the previous Labour government.

The Human Rights Watch has accused both governments of undermining the formerly strong human rights record of Australia by turning away asylum seeker boats and undercutting protection for refugees.

The watchdog also called out Australia for its indefinite and mandatory detention of asylum seekers. The Abbott government has been sending asylum seekers outside the country for processing and offer resettlement if found to be refugees.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a joint news conference with Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad January 13, 2014.
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