4 Feb 2013

UNHCR urges Australia not to send children to Manus camp

4:11 pm on 4 February 2013

Australia is being urged not to send any more children to its detention camp for asylum seekers on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island until it has made significant improvements to the conditions.

A report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees following last month's visit to the camp has found that the facility does not meet the standards required under international human rights law.

The UNHCR's Regional Representative, Richard Towle, says no system has been set up to process people's claims for refugee status and families are not allowed to leave the camp.

"The overall combination of a lack of legal framework, tough and sometimes harsh physical conditions, reinforces the fact that children for the time being shouldn't be in this place and no further children should be transferred until these arrangements have really been improved qualitatively and legally."

Richard Towle says many other countries have unsatisfactory arrangements for dealing with refugees, but he says Australia is the only one forcibly transferring people from one refugee convention country to another to face indefinite and arbitrary detention.