Weekly media roundup No. 36

Lawyers representing witnesses to the death of Reza Barati applied to the High Court of Australia for Manus Island detainees to be transported back to Australia, owing to fears for their safety. Lawyers for the detainees also lodged a habeus corpus writ, which claims gross human rights violations, including crimes against humanity, have been perpetrated by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments.

A guard’s account of the Manus Island violence on 17 February, submitted to the Senate inquiry into the events, included a statement that Reza Barati was struck over the head with a ‘lump of wood’. A recent Four Corners story raised significant concerns around the Manus Island operation.

Cambodia’s secretary of the state at the foreign ministry, Ouch Borith, indicated that the country had agreed ‘in principle’ to a deal proposed by the Australian Government to process and resettle asylum seekers in Cambodia.  President of the Cambodian Association of Australia, Youhorn Chea, condemned the government’s move, stressing that the nation was still coming to terms with its own human rights struggles.

The Guardian reported that Prime Minister Tony Abbott postponed a scheduled trip to Indonesia next week due to an asylum seeker operation north of Australia. A document leaked to The Guardian from the Nauruan government contained details of a plan to limit the resettlement of refugees in Nauru to a maximum of five years.

The Sri Lankan navy arrested 54 asylum seekers, including 13 children, when a fishing trawler headed for Australia was detected off the nation’s northeastern coast.

Recent figures released by the Immigration Department indicate the average time asylum seekers spend in Australian onshore detention is 275 days, a length that far exceeds international standards.  The Australian Human Rights Commission is concerned that the length of detention is used as a deterrent to asylum seekers.  

Performance artist Phuong Ngo began a 10-day art installation in Melbourne, during which he plans to fold 10,000 paper boats whilst consuming the same food provisions as his family on their journey to Australia in 1982.