Weekly media wrap - 17 November

The UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) is reviewing Australia’s obligations under its treaty for the first time since 2008, and will hand down its assessment on November 28. Australia’s immigration policy came under the spotlight when the committee questioned officials in relation to deaths and treatment of asylum seekers in offshore detention and the interception of boats at sea. Following this, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced that his department is set to introduce an independent ‘Detention Assurance Team’ (DAT) which will seek to monitor abuse and misconduct by service providers contracted to run both onshore and offshore detention centres.

The Senate inquiry into the federal government’s migration and maritime powers amendment received over 5,000 submissions, with many critical of the proposed laws. The amendment will seek to fast-track the assessment process and remove existing review mechanisms. The Department of Immigration revealed at the hearing that further legislation is required before asylum seekers are able to transition between the proposed safe haven enterprise visa (SHEV) and other classes of visas. The news comes after more than 100 asylum seekers on Manus Island signed a letter to MP Clive Palmer, asking to be included in plans for the government’s temporary protection visa scheme.

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea offered 10 asylum seekers in the Manus Island detention centre refugee status, inviting them to apply for a 12-month visa. This follows Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young’s undertaking to spend a week in Cambodia investigating the conditions for refugees who may be re-settled in the country under the government’s new deal.

Australia’s privacy commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, released a report concluding that the Department of Immigration unlawfully exposed data on almost 10,000 asylum seekers in detention and left their personal information public for 16 days after the breach was reported.

More than 1000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees fleeing Islamic State militants have been resettled in Australia on special humanitarian visas. Refugee advocates called for two Afghan asylum seekers to be returned to Australia following a High Court order to review a case with similar foundations. An Australian-born child, deemed by authorities as an unauthorised arrival, marked his first birthday in an immigration detention facility in Darwin.