Asylum Seekers in Australia Appear Traumatised, Tortured; Gov't Accused of 'State-Sanctioned Child Abuse'
By Reissa Su | July 31, 2014 9:06 PM EST
Asylum seekers who are being held in a remote detention centre in Western Australia have shown signs of torture and trauma. Australia Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the claims came from a "very reliable source" which prompted her to visit the detention centre on July 30.
Sri Lankan asylum seekers who were sent back by Australia cover their faces as they wait to enter a magistrate's court in the southern port district of Galle July 8, 2014.
Before coming to mainland Australia's detention centre, the asylum seekers were held in windowless rooms on the high seas for nearly a month.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed none of the asylum seekers would agree to meet with authorities from the Indian consulate. However, he warned the 157 Tamils may be subjected to indefinite detention on detention centres in Manus Island or Nauru.
The Australian Human Rights Commission will resume its hearing into child detention centres on July 31. Healthcare experts who have visited the offshore processing centres will be required to testify and provide evidence.
Reports said this is the first time high-ranking immigration officials will face the inquiry.
Australian church leaders have accused the Abbott government of "state-sanctioned child abuse" in asylum seeker detention centres and called for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to resign from his office. A spokesperson for Morrison said the minister rejected the "shocking and offensive" accusations.
Australia's asylum seeker policy continues to be under fire because of its alleged poor treatment of refugees seeking to enter the mainland.
A doctor in Sydney has criticised the government for "largely ignoring" his report regarding the poor medical treatment of asylum seekers in Australia-run detention centres in Christmas Island. Dr John-Paul Sanggaran outlined a 92-page report with 14 other physicians in November about the standard of care given to boat people.
Under Australia's asylum seeker policy, refugees arriving by boat are being sent to detention centres in Nauru or Papua New Guinea for offshore processing and resettlement outside the country. Sanggaran said Australia has the capacity to provide sufficient care to asylum seekers and the government has the "ethical responsibility" to do so.
The doctor's criticism follows the latest evaluation on the mental health of asylum seekers in Manus Island. A recent report revealed half of asylum seekers are suffering from mental health problems like stress or anxiety and depression.
Asylum seekers detained in Manus Island were found to be worse off than those in Australia and on Christmas Island. Reports said the severity of their mental health conditions is proportional to the period of their detention. Health experts said the longer they remain detained, the more their mental health deteriorates.
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