The Australia-Indonesia bilateral relationship remains under pressure, amid concerns the Abbott Government is failing to respect the relationship. The policy of “tow-backs” of asylum seeker boats into Indonesian sovereign territory is a breach of international law.
A group of African asylum seekers claimed Australian navy personnel inflicted burns by making them hold hot parts of their boat's engine when returning to Indonesia. Despite video images supporting the claims, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison rejected this claim, saying he would not investigate the incident.
Still in the region, the parliament of Niue refused a proposal to join Nauru and Manus Island in housing asylum seekers to Australia.
Human Rights Watch's World Report was launched, critical of Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers in harsh and unsatisfactory conditions. The report claims Australia is damaging its reputation by undercutting refugee protections.
UNHCR reported that there are now 890,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon and are appealing for 30,000 to be resettled immediately. Amnesty International called on Australia to accept more refugees from Syria. Australia has accepted 500 Syrian refugees. Other nations have accepted greater numbers, such as Sweden, which has accepted 14,000 Syrian refugees.
Australia signed the Refugee Convention 60 years ago this week. The Menzies government acceded on January 22, 1954.