2 Jun 2015

Aust detention centre whistleblowers to be criminalised

8:29 pm on 2 June 2015

Whistleblowers who speak out against conditions at Australia's offshore refugee processing centres face potential jail terms

The Australian government recently passed a law which criminalises whistleblowers who speak out against conditions at the Nauru and Manus Island offshore immigration centres.

The Australian Border Force Act 2015 will come into effect next month.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesperson on asylum seekers, Greg Barns, says the law will have a chilling effect on what any employee or contractor of the centre, including NGOs and doctors, can say.

"It creates a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment for up to two years for any person who reveals to the media or any other organisation, the exceptions of course being government departments, and police and coroners, anything that happens in detention centres. It certainly cuts accross the professional and ethical obligations groups like the Salvation Army, doctors and others have to report on physical and mental harm."

Greg Barns says the Act also requires immigration workers subscribe to an oath, but the contents of that oath are not detailed in the legislation.

Australian detention centre on Manus Island, PNG

Australian detention centre on Manus Island. Photo: Free google search image

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