22 Nov 2012

Amnesty critical of children being sent to remote PNG asylum seeker camp

7:26 pm on 22 November 2012

The human rights watchdog Amnesty International Australia says it is poor practice for the federal government to send children to its asylum seeker camp on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

The Australian government has begun transferring asylum seekers from Christmas Island to Manus, with four children and 15 adults sent on Wednesday.

Amnesty's Campaigns Director, Andrew Beswick, says the group has great concerns about the physical and mental health of asylum seekers being sent to Manus.

"The issue there in particular is we don't know how long these asylum seekers are going to be detained. The government is saying it could be up to five years. When you think about that scope of a very small child's life, that's a really very poor practice to be punishing a group of people but in particular to be punishing young children."

Andrew Beswick says the Australian government's offshore processing policy for asylum seekers was ill-conceived and rushed.