Senate inquiry says Australia's refugee centres "deeply concerning"


An Australian parliamentary inquiry has issued a scathing report on the "deeply concerning" situation of asylum seekers and refugees living in immigration detention centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.

The inquiry, parliament's first, called the government's offshore processing policy "disturbing" in its lack of accountability, while failing to deliver the policy in a transparent and safe manner.  It also said the government must take care of the asylum seekers and refugees it detains, stressing that "to suggest anything else is fiction."

The opposition-dominated senate inquiry examined allegations of abuse and self-harm, as well as living conditions at the centres. The report released on Friday afternoon called for an urgent independent review of medical transfer procedures and urged the government to look at ways to improve medical treatment options and mental health services for asylum seekers and refugees.

Greens senator and committee member Nick McKim said the inquiry had heard shocking evidence of appalling and unacceptable conditions at the detention centres. He called for the immediate closure of both centres.

Government senators on the committee dismissed the inquiry as "a politically motivated public-relations stunt."

Meanwhile, legal firm Slater and Gordon is bringing a class action on behalf of 1,905 detainees held on Manus since 2012 against the Australian government, alleging serious physical and psychological injuries.

The case, an Australian first, is scheduled to begin at the Victorian Supreme Court on 15 May. A judge in Melbourne said on Friday the allegations were serious.    (dpa)

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