Spokespersons for the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) [official websites on Monday expressed concern [press release; statement] about a recently passed law in Australia that will reopen offshore detention centers used to process migrants and asylum-seekers who arrive in the country by sea. A spokesperson for the High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay said that Pillay was concerned that the reopening of the offshore facilities may lead to indefinite detention and human rights violations. The Australian Parliament [official website] passed the law after a panel of experts considered possible reforms to the country's migrant policies. Both UN commissioners have called on Australian authorities to rethink the amendment to the migrant policy and to consider continuing to process migrants in the country.
Laws and policies governing the treatment of migrants continue to raise international human rights concerns. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported last month that migrants residing in Greece face a rising culture of discrimination and violence [JURIST report]. In June, Amnesty International (AI) said the Cyprus government's practice of detaining all illegal migrants seeking asylum in the island nation violates international law [JURIST report]. In January, the Israeli Knesset passed a bill that imposes harsher penalties on illegal migrants [JURIST report] in Israel, as well as on Israelis who help illegal migrants. AI criticized the bill as a violation of human rights. Last March, AI released a report documenting discrimination and human rights violations against Roma migrants [JURIST report] in Slovenia and urging the Slovenian government to protect Roma communities. In September 2010, the Global Migration Group (GMG) adopted a statement urging all governments to respect the human rights of migrants [JURIST report], who are more likely to face various forms of abuse as they lack proper legal status. The GMG stressed that every person, regardless of migration status, should enjoy the fundamental rights to life, liberty and all fundamental human rights.