Decisions made by Peter Dutton when he was immigration minister show the hypocrisy of Australia claiming to have a “non-discriminatory” immigration policy, according to a leading human rights group.
Human Rights Watch has expressed the sentiment in its annual assessment of more than 100 countries.
“The hypocrisy of Australia’s professed ‘non-discriminatory’ immigration policy was evident when it was revealed that then-Immigration Minister Peter Dutton intervened to grant tourist visas to foreign nannies on ‘public interest’ grounds in 2015, while his office denied medical transfers to Australia for asylum seekers in offshore detention,” the 674-page report states.
In its chapter dedicated to Australia, the report says the nation has a strong record of protecting civil and political rights but stressed serious human rights issues remain.
Those include the nation’s “draconian offshore processing and settlement policy” for asylum seekers who arrive by boat, it said.
There were 570 refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and about 600 on Nauru at the time of the report’s writing.
“Many refugees and asylum seekers suffer from poor mental health or mental illness due to, or exacerbated by, years of detention and uncertainty about their futures, the report states.
The significant over-representation of indigenous Australians in the prison system has also been highlighted in the annual assessment.
So too have some cybersecurity and surveillance measures.
They include draft laws – introduced to parliament in February – that would allow government agencies, banks and phone companies to use facial recognition to identify customers using identity matching services.
“The proposed laws lack adequate safeguards against abuse,” the report said.
More broadly, the report has found there is a growing global trend towards confronting the abuses of autocrats.