10 Nov 2015

Australia under fire over offshore processing at UN

1:52 pm on 10 November 2015

Australia has come under global fire for its boat turnback and offshore detention policies at a UN Human Rights Council performance review in Geneva.

Australian detention centre on Manus Island, PNG

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

Country after country at the review session raised the issue of Canberra's controversial asylum seeker policies.

Many like Germany highlighted the detention of children as a main issue.

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Photo: AAP

"To remove children and their families and other individuals at risk in particular survivors of torture and trauma from immigration detention centres."

Ireland's delegate also expressed concern at child detention and at Australian restrictions that recently deterred a UN rights official from visiting the detention centre on Nauru.

Other countries to raise concerns about the policies were the US, Canada, France, Greece, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, Iceland, Iran, Pakistan and Kenya.

But the Australian delegation has defended the policies, saying they saved lives at sea and allowed Australia to take in many thousands of refugees through proper channels.

Steve McGlynn of Australia's Immigration and Border Protection Department told the gathering there was a commitment to managed and equitable migration.

"Australia's border policies have been successful in severely damaging the insidious people smuggling trade and by extension have saved countless lives at sea. The ensuing substantial and sustained reduction in maritime ventures as a result of Australia's managed approach to migration has resulted in Australia being able to settle more refugees for our humanitarian programmes."