Asylum seekers in 'shameful' conditions – Amnesty International

  • 11/12/2013

More than 1000 asylum seekers are being held in "shameful conditions" in a processing centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, says Amnesty International.

In a report published today, Amnesty International alleges the Australian government is holding asylum seekers in a "prison-like regime", in cramped compounds with insufficient water and little medical aid.

"This system of harsh conditions and humiliating treatment is a deliberate effort to pressure people to return to the desperate situations they have fled from," says Amnesty International Australia's national director Claire Mallinson.

The organisation says the Australian government is "directly responsible" for the inhumane conditions at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.

The report is based on a visit to the island in November, and reveals how some asylum seekers have contemplated suicide due to the conditions they are currently facing.

"I have lived in war-zones, with bombs and explosions," says a 43-year-old Iraqi man. "I have never experienced what I am experiencing here with the uncertainty we face. If we had died in the ocean that would have been better."

Amnesty International says the inhumane conditions are forcing refugees to choose to return to their own countries, exposing them to the risk of persecution or torture upon their return.

The report reveals there are more than 1000 males living in three compounds, each surrounded by 8-foot-high metal fences and patrolled by security guards, who are contracted by the Australian government.

Amnesty says the facility is essentially run by the Australian government and detainees spend hours in the sun each day queuing for meals with no shade or shelter.

"The mixture of stifling heat, sweat and moisture leaves a permanent, overwhelming stench," says Ms Mallinson. "Asylum seekers reported finding snakes in the room and flooding when it rained."

A number of refugees also reported verbal and physical abuse from staff, such as being kicked, punched and shoved.

"This is the process of how you break someone mentally," says one medical professional. "These conditions are contributing to a range of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, lack of sleep and trauma."

Amnesty International is calling on the Australian government to improve the facilities until all the refugees can be moved to Australian territory and can have access to asylum procedures.

3 News

source: newshub archive