U.S. officials in Australia to assess asylum seekers

U.S. officials in Australia to assess asylum seekers

Troy Powers
November 19, 2016

The one-off arrangement applies to asylum-seekers detained in off-shore detention on Nauru and Manus Island, after attempting to reach Australia by boat.

A United Nations expert on migrants' rights says a USA agreement to resettle an unspecified number of refugees would be a "great achievement" if it emptied Australia-run Pacific island camps where asylum seekers have been treated badly.

"Australia has seen the cost of this", said Mr. Crepeau at the end of a 18-day inspection of the country and a detention camp set up by Canberra in Nauru.

"It is a fundamental principle of human rights law that one person can not be punished only for the reason of deterring another".

"Officials from Homeland Security are in Australia right now in fact and they will be going to Nauru shortly", Turnbull said on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Lima, Peru.

The effect of this detention was "incalculable", he said, citing people he had met as "deeply damaged" by the length of their detention, with self-harm and post-traumatic stress disorder common.

Successive Australian governments have defended the policies as necessary to deter criminal trafficking of vulnerable refugees.

"I believe that Australia is responsible for what is happening to the refugees and the asylum seekers in Nauru", he said.

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"Australia would vehemently protest if its citizens were treated like this by other countries and especially if Australian children were treated like this", the special rapporteur told Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).

"Any agreement regarding third country resettlement must be meaningful - in terms of numbers, timeliness and opportunities to rebuild - and adhere to Australia's worldwide humanitarian and human rights obligations".

U.S. officials have arrived in Australia to begin assessing asylum seekers held on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island and Nauru for resettlement in the US.

"So I think the only solution is to quickly close these centres, as quickly as possible".

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection said in a statement it did not accept some Crepeau's observations on Australia's compliance with worldwide obligations and human rights principles.

The human rights expert will present a formal report on this mission to the UN Human Rights Council in June next year.

However, the Australian government dismissed that report.