12 Jun 2017

UN told Australian refugee policy 'punitive'

6:45 pm on 12 June 2017

Australia's punitive approach to unathorised maritime arrivals has blemished the country's human rights record, the UN Human Rights Council has been told.

A large number of people from different walks of life holding banners and placards marched to the US consulate protesting against Trump's travel ban policy and demanded Australian government to settle all the refugees and asylum seekers in the county.

Protestors march on the streets of Sydney's central business district against US President Donald Trump's travel ban policy on February 4, 2017. Photo: SAEED KHAN / AFP

The message was delivered by the UN's special rapporteur for the human rights of migrants, who discussed his mission to Australia and Nauru with the council last week in Geneva.

Francois Crépeau told the council he witnessed first-hand the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment inflicted upon migrants in Nauru, including children, for which the Australian government should be held accountable.

He urged Australia to close down its refugee processing centre on Nauru, to repatriate all children and families with children to Australia and to find meaningful resettlement options for all refugees.

Protesters gather outside the family compound of the asylum seeker detention centre on Nauru.

Protesters gather outside the family compound of the asylum seeker detention centre on Nauru. Photo: Supplied

In response, the Australian government said it was not appropriate to prepare a one country report in relation to visits to two independent nations.

It said it would continue to support refugee processing capacity on Nauru, but was working with the government of Papua New Guinea to close the Manus Island centre by the end of October.

It said it supports the governments of Nauru and PNG to secure appropriate and durable outcomes for refugees and that it would continue discussions with other countries to expand resettlement options.

Protest at Australian Parliament

Protest at Australian Parliament Photo: NINE NEWS / Screenshot

Australian has brokered a deal with the United States to resettle up to 1250 of the refugees detained on Nauru and Manus Island, but has declined an offer from New Zealand to resettle 150.

Critics of the offshore detention policy say it could thwart Australia's bid for a seat on the Human Rights Council.

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