Pirate Party Calls for Human Rights to be Respected on Manus Island

Following the escape of detainees at the Manus Island Detention Facility that resulted in the death of one asylum seeker, Pirate Party Australia supports the call by Amnesty International for an independent investigation into the incident[1]. The Pirate Party also calls on the Government to seek humane alternatives to mandatory detention that encourage the proper treatment of asylum seekers in the region. The situation is of particular concern as there have been reports of Papua New Guinean police and locals attacking the fleeing escapees[2].

The scale of the riots and the magnitude of the breakdown in our handling and processing systems are unprecedented, and a full investigation is warranted. Pirate Party Australia objects to the concentration camp conditions which led to the rioting, and is critical of both the current and previous governments’ approach to asylum seekers.

“People should not die when seeking asylum,” commented Melanie Thomas, Deputy President of Pirate Party Australia. “Regardless of whether they are genuine refugees or not — though almost all asylum seekers are genuine refugees — we should never be in a situation where those in our care are killed. It is simply not good enough that we are subjecting asylum seekers to conditions that could result, and now have resulted, in their deaths.

“Not only has the mandatory offshore detention of asylum seekers continued under the Coalition, the entire regime has become far less transparent. We are being told less and less about the situation, but are hearing increased reports of the poor treatment occurring on Manus Island and other detention facilities via unofficial channels. It is unacceptable for this situation to be perpetuated in the opaque manner that it is.

“The Liberal Party espouses support for the ‘inalienable rights and freedoms of all people’ and ‘a just and humane society'[3]. While this horrific treatment of refugees continues, the Abbott Government is failing to hold true to this philosophy. They cannot blame the previous Government for their inaction when it comes to providing asylum seekers with humane treatment, basic amenities, and dignified living conditions.”

The Pirate Party’s own policy promotes a regional solution to the issue of asylum seekers through Australian leadership of a scheme that involves processing refugees as close to their home country as possible. The policy is intended to speed up the process, making it more efficient, and placing the responsibility for settling asylum seekers on the region as a whole[4].

“Our policy reduces the incentives for asylum seekers to pay people smugglers and risk their lives coming to Australia in unseaworthy boats by ensuring they can seek asylum closer to home,” Ms Thomas continued. “Australia needs to encourage other countries to get on board and take their share of the burden of processing and resettling refugees. We as a nation can prevent tragedy at sea and in detention facilities not by turning back boats and telling people they can never settle in Australia, but through regional cooperation to ensure that there is no need for people to get on boats in the first place.”

Australia has drawn significant criticism from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees[5] and organisations like Amnesty International[6] for its treatment of asylum seekers. Pirate Party Australia urges the Government to reconsider the handling of asylum seekers by Australia, in light of this criticism and the deteriorating situation on Manus Island.

[1] http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/33951/
[2] http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/236481/scores-injured-in-reprisals-for-manus-island-breakout
[3] http://www.liberal.org.au/our-beliefs
[4] https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Policies/Asylum_Seekers_and_Refugees
[5] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-27/unhcr-report-on-nauru/5118588
[6] https://www.amnesty.org/en/news/australia-asylum-seekers-held-cruel-and-prison-regime-manus-island-2013-12-11