Weekly media round-up No. 29

report from the Human Rights Law Centre criticised Australia’s close cooperation with Sri Lanka, saying it had jeopardised the safety of asylum seekers fleeing that country. The Australian government denies that anyone sent back to Sri Lanka has been harmed, though the report found (p 6) at least one man returned had been “severely tortured”.

 The Immigration Department apologised to thousands of asylum seekers for releasing their personal information online. Department secretary Martin Bowles wrote a letter stating the department will "assess any implications for you personally as part of its normal process". Dozens of asylum seekers are believed to be planning court action over the breach, which saw the full names, nationalities and dates of birth of almost 10,000 asylum seekers made available on a government website.

Fairfax Media reported police on Manus Island are close to charging several men with the murder of Reza Barati. Some suspects are believed to still be working at the facility.

The chief justice of Nauru, Australian citizen Geoffrey Eames QC, resigned saying he “could not be assured that the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary would be respected”. Eames had his visa cancelled earlier this year when he issued an injunction to prevent the government deporting the country’s only magistrate. The Department of Foreign Affairs said the episode gave “rise to concerns about the rule of law in Nauru and Nauru’s reputation internationally”. Sixteen asylum seekers are awaiting trial in Nauru over a July 2013 riot on the island, where the Australian government has been sending asylum seekers since 2012.

Defending the treatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru in an interview with the BBC, Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop wrongly stated that those found to be refugees may later be settled in Australia, that the claims of those in the centres are being processed (only one positive determination has been made on Nauru), and that children in detention go to school.

A former employee of the Salvation Army published an account of life inside the Nauru detention centre. Mark Isaacs relates the haphazard selection process for camp staff and their lack of training, as well as the asylum seekers he befriended who went on to self-harm.