find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Lawyers locked out of Manus

Lawyers locked out of Manus

The head of the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) has revealed that lawyers are battling to access clients on Manus Island as the UN takes aim at Australia’s asylum seeker policies.

Hugh de Kretser (pictured), the executive director of the HRLC, told Lawyers Weekly that it is “extremely difficult for lawyers to contact [asylum seeker] clients and properly advise them of their rights.”

He added that the Federal Government deliberately chose Manus Island to make it difficult for the rule of law to reach the asylum seekers detained there.

De Kretser’s comments follow heavy scrutiny of Australia’s asylum seeker policies and counter-terror laws by the UN.

The UN Committee Against Torture is currently reviewing Australia’s compliance with the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, to which it has been a signatory since 1985.

Earlier this week (10 November), that Committee grilled a number of Australian government officials.

HRLC director of legal advocacy, Daniel Webb, who is currently in Geneva, said it was clear from the line of questioning that the Committee held serious concerns that Australia had breached the Convention.

The Committee was particularly troubled by boat turnbacks and the ‘screening out’ of asylum seekers.

“International law is crystal clear – Australia can’t return people to torture,” said Webb.

“The Committee wanted to know how the Government could claim to be complying with that obligation when it has been intercepting and returning asylum seekers without any sort of due process.”

The Committee’s questioning will continue tomorrow.

HRLC is among 77 organisations that slammed Australia’s declining standards in its prevention of torture and cruel treatment in a detailed joint-report provided to the UN last month.

Manus Island two years on

Since the Manus Island detention centre opened in November 2012, two people have died, 60 have been injured and not a single refugee claim has been finalised, according to data from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC).

The ASRC has also calculated, based on parliamentary data, that the cost of detention is around $911 million per year. There are currently around 1060 people being detained at Manus Island.

Despite the high human and financial cost of detention, no timeframe has been given for refugee decisions or resettlement, which is a source of frustration for lawyers whose clients are enduring “crushing, indefinite detention” in “unsafe and inhumane” conditions, said de Kretser.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the permanent resettlement of asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea would begin in May. Six months later, PNG has yet to introduce legislation for resettlement.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Lawyers locked out of Manus
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Lawyers slam rushed consultation for SA repeat offenders bill
The Law Society of South Australia has expressed concern for a proposal to roll out new laws amendin...
The pursuit of happiness in the law
A panel of legal experts have explored how to define success in the legal profession, and how lawyer...
Queensland University of Technology, ruby milestone
Queensland law school reaches ruby milestone
Celebrating 40 years since establishing a law course in 1977, the Queensland University of Technolog...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...