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ICC petition accuses Australia of violating refugee human rights

[JURIST] Australia's offshore detention of asylum seekers constitutes a human rights violation, according to a petition [text, PDF] filed Monday in the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] by a coalition of legal experts. The 108-page document, submitted to the ICC by the Global Legal Action Network (Glan) and the Stanford International Human Rights Clinic [advocacy websites], urges the ICC prosecutor to open an investigation into the possible "crimes against humanity committed by individuals and corporate actors" on asylum seekers in the Australian detention facilities. Glan released a statement [press release] calling attention to the inhumane conditions preventing asylum seekers arriving by boat from reaching the mainland. Glan continued that

As recent leaks reveal, these privatised facilities entail long-term detention in inhumane conditions, often including physical and sexual abuse of adults and children. The conditions and resulting hopelessness have caused what experts describe as 'epidemic levels' of self-harm among those held on these islands. Based on original research, the communication is the most comprehensive submission on crimes against humanity perpetrated outside of the context of war.
For the ICC prosecutor to bring charges against an Australian government head or state official, the prosecutor would need to be convinced that Australia's crimes violated the Rome Statute [text, PDF] by constituting "a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack."

Australia has particularly been under fire for its treatment of refugees. Amnesty International (AI) has accused Australia of using the island of Nauru as an "open-air prison" [JURIST report] to prevent immigration of asylum seekers. In August Australia announced [JURIST report] that Australia and Papua New Guinea intend on closing the controversial Manus Island detention center. That same month AI and Human Rights Watch issued reports [JURIST report] stating that Australia is ignoring inhumane treatment of detainees in Nauru. Papua New Guinea officials claimed in May that refugees are not being detained [JURIST report] on Manus Island, as they are given access to mainland Australia. The statement by officials followed a ruling by the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court that the Australian off-shore detention facility was illegal, in direct opposition to a ruling [JURIST report] by the Australian Supreme Court earlier this year that the off-shore detention was legal.

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