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Amnesty censures Australian rights abuses

22 February 2017 11:58

 

The Amnesty International rights group has slammed Australia for rights violations against Aboriginals in the country as well as asylum seekers held off shores, saying indigenous kids are 24 times more likely to be arrested than their non-native peers.

In a scathing report released on Wednesday, Amnesty censured Canberra’s complacency amid numerous incidents of rights abuses, urging it to do more in respecting human rights at home and abroad.

“Our government can’t be saying one thing on the one hand and commit to some human rights agendas such as global abolition of the death penalty, while carrying out policies of deliberate abuse and staying shamefully silent in the face of atrocities on the other,” said Claire Mallinson, the national director at Amnesty International Australia, following the report’s publication.

The file photo shows detained asylum-seekers looking through a fence at the Manus Island detention center, in Papua New Guinea, on March 21, 2014. (By Reuters)

The Amnesty report slammed the Australian justice system’s treatment of Aborigines, who make up nearly three percent of the country’s total population of 24 million but continue to remain among the most disadvantaged citizens.

According to the report, the rate of the imprisonment of indigenous adults across Australia is 15 times higher than that of non-Aboriginal adults.

The report came shortly after an official admission by the country’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said last week that Canberra was failing in the efforts to improve the lives of the Aboriginals. He pointed to a report showing that the government had missed key targets, including decreasing child mortality and increasing life expectancy.

An injured Afghan asylum seeker from the Manus Island detention center is carried into a vehicle after he was attacked by a group of Papua New Guinean men while out on a day release, August 10, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Amnesty specifically pointed to incidents at the Don Dale juvenile detention center in northern Australia. Video footage emerged last year showing mostly Aboriginal boys being tear-gassed and abused there in 2014 and 2015.

The report also pointed to Australia’s controversial offshore asylum practices. It said that an agreement between Canberra and Washington to resettle an unspecified number of the 1,600 asylum seekers held at the centers meant that Canberra had “finally acknowledged that Australia’s hard-line policy is untenable.”

 

Australia blocks the asylum seekers who have been seeking to reach Australian land irregularly by sea. It has been intercepting vessels carrying the would-be-refugees and diverting them to the offshore detention camps. The Australian government has made clear that it would not take such individuals in as refugees.

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