Australian detention centres 'extraordinarily bad' – Labour

Australian detention centres 'extraordinarily bad' – Labour

New Zealand should call out Australia for human rights abuses over the state of their detention centres, Labour says.

Pressure has been put on the Australian government by Opposition parties as well as the Government over a new policy which indiscriminately deports foreigners sentenced to more than 12 months' prison.

There are around 200 Kiwis in detention centres around Australia and including Christmas Island waiting to be deported – many of whom left New Zealand when they were young.

The centres have been in the spotlight lately following the death of New Zealand-born Junior Togatuki who was found dead in his cell shortly before he was due to be deported.

Prime Minister John Key had a "blunt" chat about it with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop during his week-long visit to the United Nations in New York this week.

But Labour's foreign affairs spokesman David Shearer says more needs to be done about the "extraordinarily bad treatment" people face in Australia's detention centres.

Prison operator Serco runs the centre on Christmas Island and has been heavily criticised by the Australian Human Rights Commission which raised "grave concerns" about treatment of detainees.

"The imprisonment of a mounting number of Kiwis in sub-standard detention centres likely constitutes arbitrary detention without trial, which is illegal under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Australia signed up to," Mr Shearer says.

It also means people who have served their prison time but are now being locked up in a Serco-run camp 5000km from where they live, are being separated from their families and legal representation.

"In the same way New Zealand has spoken out against human rights abuses in our smaller Pacific neighbours, we should be drawing world attention to those being committed by Australia," Mr Shearer says.

Green Party global issues spokesman Kennedy Graham says the relationship between the two countries doesn't seem as special as it may seem.

It wants National to formalise and secure the rights of Kiwis in Australia otherwise "New Zealanders will be stuck being the poorer cousin in this relationship".

The Greens and their Australian counterparts this week jointly called for the deportations to be done on a case-by-case basis, rather than indiscriminately.

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