This week the Border Force Act came into effect. The new legislation has been criticised for new rules providing that people working in the detention system can be jailed for two years for disclosing ‘protected information’. Over 40 doctors, teachers and humanitarian workers wrote an open letter challenging the Abbott Government to prosecute them for publicly discussing conditions in immigration detention centres. The World Medical Association also condemned the new laws.
Roman Quaedvlieg was sworn in as Commissioner of the new Australian Border Force authority, the agency that merges frontline functions of the customs and immigration departments. The Commissioner confirmed that detail on ‘operational matters’ of the agency would not be discussed publicly, but indicated that the laws would not override existing whistleblower protections.
On Nauru, a school within the detention centre is expected to close, with children aged seven to 17 to move to local schools. Concern has been raised about the child protection framework utilised by Nauruan schools and the risk of the children’s exposure to corporal punishment.
An asylum seeker accused of sexually assaulting four girls at the Nauru detention centre has been moved into isolation along with his wife eight year-old daughter and, raising concern for the welfare of the child. The accused has been charged with sexual assault.
Across the detention network, workplace and safety incident documentation obtained by Fairfax media showed there were 449 incidents recorded between July 2013 and June 2014 for asylum seekers in detention centres as well as immigration workers and contractors in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
UNHCR reported 137,000 refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean in the first six months of 2015, compared with 75,000 in the same period in 2014. The majority of those taking the sea journey to Europe are refugees.
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