Democrats’ Immigration spokesperson Senator Andrew Bartlett says it is vital that the Human Rights Commissioner is able to visit Nauru’s offshore detention facility.
“Some of the refugees there now have been in detention for a year and there are reports of hunger strikes starting up, yet the federal government wants to prevent any independent scrutiny,” Senator Bartlett said.
“The government’s refusal to allow the Human Rights Commissioner access is another example of our government thinking it can do whatever it wants without scrutiny or oversight.
“The government wants to prevent HREOC from visiting, and has previously refused to allow Parliamentary Committees from visiting. It is unacceptable that over six years, I have been the only Senator to visit these facilities on Nauru and the many traumatised refugees we have kept there.
“It’s laughable for the Minister to say the detention facilities on Nauru are outside Australia’s jurisdiction.
“The detention centres only exist because of the Coalition government’s insistence on trying to circumvent due process and a fair go. Hundreds of millions of Australian taxpayers’ dollars have been pumped into the Pacific Solution, yet our government has the gall to pretend its outside Australian jurisdiction!
“The government can’t continue to brush its harmful treatment of asylum seekers under the carpet.
“Government assurances that it is processing asylum claims quickly are also clearly a lie. Burmese detainees have been there for twelve months now and the most recently arrived Sri Lankan detainees have been there for approximately 6 months with no definite end in sight for their detention.
“How many times do we have to go through this farce? The government doesn’t want to deal with these claims expeditiously, but they are more than happy to destroy people’s lives for short term political advantage.
“This exercise of off-shore detention costs the taxpayer millions of dollars annually and has a great human cost for which the community will be paying for decades to come.
“The government’s denial of access to the HREOC Commissioner is unforgivable, it must reverse this decision to ensure some degree of independent oversight of the government’s policy of off-shore detention,” Senator Bartlett concluded.
Senator Bartlett made his fourth trip to Nauru’s detention facilities in April this year to meet with asylum seekers there.