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9 years of offshore detention sees continued ‘shameful treatment of people seeking safety’

The Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) has marked the ninth year since offshore detention was implemented by the Australian government.

user iconJess Feyder 22 July 2022 Politics
9 years of offshore detention sees continued ‘shameful treatment of people seeking safety’
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Since offshore detention was implemented in 2013, the HRLC has marked significant milestones along the timeline, beginning with former prime minister Kevin Rudd announcing that all people seeking asylum by boat would be detained offshore and prevented from settling in Australia. 

In 2015, the HRLC marked the day that the United Nations found aspects of Australia’s asylum seeker policies in violation of the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. 

In 2016, Omid Masoumali died in an act of self-immolation (setting oneself on fire) — an act with centuries-long recognition as the most extreme form of protest possible by humankind. 


In 2020, Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a refugee and human rights defender, addressed the United Nations in Geneva with a message addressed to the Morrison government: “I was detained for six years by the Australian government, with hundreds of other people, simply seeking safety for ourselves, and today hundreds of other people are still being detained. They are sick, they have lost hope, and some of them are dying. The Australian government must be held accountable for this breach of human rights.” 

Two hundred sixteen people remain in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, where they have endured nine years of isolation, mistreatment, deplorable living conditions and medical neglect, said the HRLC. 

“Every person subjected to offshore processing has lost years of their lives and been separated from loved ones because of the intentionally punitive policies of successive Australian governments,” it stated.

“The federal government’s shameful treatment of people seeking safety continues.

“Since 2013, thousands of people who came to Australia for protection have been subjected to the failed, arbitrary and harmful policy of offshore processing.

“The Human Rights Law Centre is calling for an immediate end to offshore processing and for the Albanese government to provide permanent and safe resettlement to every person who has suffered under the policy.

“This includes shutting down offshore detention once and for all, and bringing all those still in Nauru or Papua New Guinea to safety in Australia pending permanent resettlement, whether in Australia or elsewhere.”

Scott Cosgriff, a senior lawyer at the HRLC, commented: “Almost a decade on, the Australian government continues to punish people for seeking safety here. Families have been ripped apart. People have died. Hundreds of men, women and children have lost years of their lives and still don’t have any permanent home.  

“Right now in Nauru, refugees who turned to Australia for safety are instead struggling to access food and water as COVID-19 devastates the country.”