Weekly media wrap - 9 May 2016

On Nauru, a second incident of self-immolation occurred. The young Somali refugee woman remains in a critical condition and is being treated in a Nauru hospital. In the wake of the incident, Minister Dutton criticised both the media and advocacy groups for encouraging asylum seekers and refugees to ‘behave in a certain way’ and for raising hope and expectation that through resistance, they may be able to come to Australia. 

A PNG representative appeared before the United Nations Human Rights Council through the Universal Periodic Review process, stating that the government accepts the recent court decision and is working to make arrangements for the men held within the detention facility. Australian officials met with Papua New Guinea (PNG) counterparts to put in place arrangements to comply with the Supreme Court ruling.  

In Australia, an application was lodged in the high court for over 750 refugees and asylum seekers currently held in offshore detention. The case will seek an urgent injunction to prevent this group being sent to Nauru following the expected closure of the Manus Island detention centre.                  

Elsewhere in the courts, the Federal Court of Australia found that the Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, exposed an asylum seeker to serious medical and legal risk by flying the woman from Nauru to PNG to terminate her pregnancy, despite this procedure being illegal in PNG. The asylum seeker became pregnant after being raped while in detention. The Federal Court also found that Australia owed a duty of care to the asylum seeker, a finding that may have broad ramifications for offshore detention.

The Australian Government released a statement offering regret for the use of unsubstantiated allegations that led to the sacking of ten Save the Children staff working on Nauru. It was alleged that the workers were coaching people held in detention to self-harm. The Australian Government will provide compensation to Save the Children. However Scott Morrison, then immigration minister, has indicated he would not make an apology to the organisation for the incident. 

A boat carrying 12 asylum seekers was intercepted off the shores of Australia’s Cocos Islands. The group of asylum seekers were flown to Colombo, Sri Lanka and have been arrested and taken into police custody in Colombo. The Australian Government has not made any comment on this incident, identifying it as an operational matter.  

As part of 2016-17 federal budget announcements, Minister Dutton announced to parliament that 17 onshore detention facilities will be closed.