THE Australian government’s behaviour in relation to its Manus island “detention centre” continues to be appalling.
More details have emerged about the censorship of doctors, teachers, journalists, NGO employees, church workers and anyone else employed there or reporting on what is happening there.
These professionals can go to jail merely for reporting abuse, which one would assume to be the ethical, humane and right thing to do.
And there's another related problem - the Australian media is hardly raising a whisper about this assault on citizens' rights and freedoms.
Australia is a democracy and, since it achieved independence from Britain in 1901, its flag has flown high around the world on matters of decency and freedom, but in the case of asylum seekers it is acting like a fascist state.
Under sweeping new laws designed to gag whistleblowers, doctors, teachers and other professionals working in immigration detention facilities face up to two years in prison if they speak out against conditions in the centres or provide information to journalists.
The malevolent Border Force Act, passed quietly by the Australian parliament on 14 May with both major parties assenting, forbids "entrusted people" from recording or disclosing information about conditions in centres such as that on Manus Island.
Under the heading Secrecy and Disclosure Provisions, the Act says releasing information is only permitted by the secretary of the department responsible for detention centres.
"Under the proposed measures, the unauthorised disclosures of information, including personal information will be punishable by imprisonment for two years," the Act says.
The new law will come into force next month at the same time the Australian immigration and customs departments merge.
The president of the Australian Medical Association, Prof Brian Owler, said this was the first time doctors had been threatened with jail for revealing inadequate conditions for their patients in immigration centres.
Meanwhile the London Daily Mail reports that a refugee was imjured after Manus Island guards “beat him as he ate dinner in local restaurant after ignoring 6pm curfew.”
The Iranian man (pictured) was eating at a restaurant at 10pm when the security guards entered. They beat him up, and took him back to East Lorengau transit centre
The refugee had his asylum claim processed and had lawfully left detention. However all refugees are directed to return to the transit centre before 6pm.