Weekly media wrap - 20 December 2018

Parallel class action cases in the High Court of Australia claim that around 1200 asylum seekers and refugees in Nauru and Papua New Guinea have been subjected to crimes against humanity and torture. The claims seek injunctions to transfer the class action participants to Australia and damages for harm while in the offshore centres. The claims are being brought under the civil law of negligence, which requires the Commonwealth of Australia to meet a certain duty of care to people within its jurisdiction.

In 2017-2018, 27,931 people applied for asylum in Australia having arrived by plane, an increase from 18,290 the previous year. Applicants from China, who receive protection at a rate of around 10 per cent, made up one-third of all applications.

An Australian-based footballer of refugee background arrested in Thailand faces extradition to his country of origin, Bahrain. Hakeem al-Araibi, arrested on holiday at Bangkok airport, has previously faced torture in Bahrain and been convicted of vandalism in absentia in the country. The forced return of al-Araibi to Bahrain would amount to refoulement.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton appointed Major General Craig Furini as Operation Sovereign Borders commander, arguing for the retention of offshore regional processing centres, as well as ongoing boat turnbacks.

The Australian Government launched an inquiry into the integration and employment of refugees and other humanitarian entrants in Australia. The review is likely to be completed by February 2019.

In international news, a seven-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and exhaustion in the custody of United States Customs and Border Protection in New Mexico, having crossed the border from Mexico.