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Urgent Interventions

OMCT welcomes the Australian Government's decision to invite the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention



Geneva, February 12, 2002

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) welcomes the Australian Government’s decision to invite the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to visit the Woomera detention centre and examine the arbitrary character of the detention of asylum seekers.

OMCT believes that such a visit should take place at the first possible opportunity, as stated by Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In a letter sent to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on February 1st 2002, OMCT, alarmed by the treatment of asylum seekers and migrants in Australia, urged the Group to consider carrying out a visit to the country in order to examine the arbitrary character of their detention.

OMCT remains deeply concerned about the conditions of detention of asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children and torture victims, in particular, in the controversial Australian detention centres at Port Headland, Curtin and Woomera and considers the consequences of detention to be particularly serious, causing severe emotional and psychological stress which may amount to inhuman and degrading treatment.

The visit of the Working Group would be an encouraging step to establish a more open dialogue with international human rights community and civil society.

OMCT hopes that the Australian authorities will faithfully implement the provisions of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, as well as its 1967 Protocol and consider reviewing certain aspects of their policy on international refugee law, in particular the mandatory detention under the Migration Act of asylum seekers and migrants.

For further information, please contact OMCT: +41.22.809.49.39 or
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