UN slams government's asylum seeker plan
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has slammed the Australian government's decision to reintroduce offshore asylum seeker detention centres.
On Wednesday, four years after axing John Howard's Pacific Solution, Labor and the Coalition agreed to restart detention centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.
But a spokesman for the UN high commissioner Navi Pillay said the UNHCR was concerned that offshore processing centres would lead to indefinite detention and put human rights at risk. ''The high commissioner reiterates her call for a rethink of Australia's asylum and migration policy, urging political leaders to take a principled and courageous stand on migration and to break an ingrained political habit of demonising migrants and asylum seekers,'' the spokesman said.
''Because of the drastic impact of immigration detention, including on the physical and mental health of those detained, the United Nations human rights mechanisms have emphasised that it should always be applied as a measure of last resort, only permissible for the shortest period of time and only when no less restrictive measure is available.''
The commissioner has been vocal in her criticism of Australia's use of mandatory detention for migrants and asylum seekers. In May last year, while in Australia, Ms Pillay said the policy put a black mark against Australia's human rights record.
''Thousands of men, women and - most disturbingly of all - children have been held in Australian detention centres for prolonged periods, even though they have committed no crime,'' Ms Pillay said.