4 Feb 2014

Australia Human Rights Commission stumped over Nauru ban

10:45 pm on 4 February 2014

The President of Australia's Human Rights Commission says the fact she can't enter the asylum seeker camps on Nauru to investigate her country's treatment of children while foreign organisations can is a paradox.

Professor Gillian Triggs has announced an inquiry into the impact of detention on the health, well-being and development of children in the camps.

But her jurisdiction doesn't extend to other countries, which is the reason the Immigration minister, Scott Morrison, has given for not letting her go to Nauru to investigate.

She says there are all sorts of international groups like Amnesty International and UNICEF that are reporting the matter and raising it in international fora, but Australia's own statutory body with human rights powers is barred from doing so.

"Other bodies, particularly the United Nations Human Rights Committee is currently receiving complaints from detainees with children and has already given a first ruling to the effect that to detain people in the sure knowledge that this will lead to mental illness is in itself a breach of fundamental human rights."

Professor Gillian Triggs.