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10 October 2017

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Australia’s castigation before the UN has continued for a second day, with the human rights committee condemning Western Australia’s practice of jailing fine defaulters, and specifically highlighting the death of Indigenous woman Ms Dhu in custody.

Australia is currently before the committee for the periodic review of its human rights record, and the issues of Indigenous incarceration and asylum policy again dominated committee criticisms.

On a second day of questioning, Prof Yuval Shany focused on the indefinite mandatory detention of asylum seekers and refugees in harmful conditions.

“We are not questioning Australia’s right to exercise border control … we are concerned with two elements, one is the issue of non-refoulement [returning a person to danger] … and the second is the treatment of these migrants who are seeking asylum while present in Australian jurisdiction, in particular with their right not to be arbitrarily deprived of their liberty.”

He said Australia had contorted its asylum protection policy to one focused on deterrence. Harsh detention conditions “rising to the level of cruel treatment”, unjustified use of physical force, handcuffing of asylum seekers, appeared unreasonable actions.

“The question is: how does the state justify treating migrants as criminals?”

Committee member Prof Sarah Cleveland described Operation Sovereign Borders and Australia’s offshore processing of asylum seekers as “shocking”.

“I find the legal regime in place quite shocking for this state, particularly for a state that holds itself as broadly human rights compliant,” she said.

“It’s very disturbing both from the perspective of respect international law and humane protection of persons and from the model it suggests for other states.”

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/20/un-condemns-australia-on-indigenous-detentions-and-asylum-policies

The healthcare provider for Australia’s offshore processing regime, International Health and Medical Services has been contracted by the Papua New Guinean government to stay beyond the closure of the Manus Island detention centre at the end of the month.

Under the recently signed contract IHMS will continue providing healthcare to refugees – who are expected to settle in the PNG community – and non-refugees in Lorengau and in Port Moresby, but it is not known how long for.

PNG’s general healthcare system is in crisis, with reported shortages of medication across multiple regions, including Manus province.

“Medical care will continue to cover mental health services and will transition clients on to a PNG formulary, where it is considered clinically safe to do so,” an IHMS spokeswoman told Guardian Australia.

“Of course, with closure of the Manus RPC [regional processing centre], services can no longer be provided at that location.”

The spokeswoman said as a result detainees were being assisted to “self-manage” their medications during the transition to having to access services in the community or in Port Moresby.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/20/manus-medical-team-to-stay-on-after-detention-centre-closes

Thousands of asylum seekers in Australia will now require permission from Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's department if they want to get a pet.

Leaked guidelines issued by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection reveal all asylum seekers receiving taxpayer support must obtain the department's approval before buying a household animal.

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/cat-and-dog-crackdown-asylum-seekers-now-need-the-governments-permission-to-buy-a-pet-20171019-gz4bhm.html

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