Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage have all called for the adoption of an Australian-style immigration system.
However, in a devastating critique of Australia’s methods, medical ethicists have warned there is “increasing evidence that Australia is engaged in torturing asylum seekers” with refugees imprisoned for more than a year without trial.
There are allegations of c, another method of torture called “zipping” in which people are tied to a bed that is then thrown into the air, sexual assault and exploitation, and child abuse.
And the inmates of detention centres created outside of Australia to avoid its laws are held in conditions of secrecy that prevent scrutiny of their treatment while laws prevent doctors speaking out about mistreatment.
Last year, a United Nations report accused Australia of breaking the Convention Against Torture over its treatment of migrants.
The then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, responded that “Australians are sick of being lectured to by the United Nations”, saying their policies had stopped refugee boats from trying to make the perilous sea journey to Australia and “ended the deaths at sea”.
In a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics, the ethicists, Dr John-Paul Sanggaran, of the University of New South Wales, and Professor Deborah Zion, of Victoria University, wrote that there was “increasing evidence that Australia is engaged in torturing asylum seekers”.
“There are allegations of situations, circumstances and actions that also constitute cruel and unusual punishment throughout Australian immigration detention,” they wrote.
They pointed to allegations by guards at a detention centre on the island of Nauru “of waterboarding, familiar to most as a torture technique that simulates drowning used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in places like Guantanamo bay”.
“‘Zipping’ is also alleged. It is described as tying an individual to a metal bed frame with cable ties, the bed is then thrown into the air causing injury to the bound individual when the frame crashes to the ground,” they added.
The ethicists said it was “of great concern and significance” that protections that ensured asylum seekers’ human rights “have long been absent in the Australian immigration detention setting”.
“In this way, those who control the collection and dissemination of information, in this case successive Australian governments extinguish evidence of the suffering of those in the present and silence their voices for all time,” they said.
“It is in this silence that policies which undermine human rights facilitate substandard care, child abuse and now, perhaps, more active and egregious examples of torture.”
In another article in the journal, Professor David Isaacs, who provided paediatric services at an immigration detention centre, said the prolonged imprisonment was “arguably to coerce asylum seekers into voluntarily returning to their own or another country and to deter others from seeking asylum”.
The consequences of such detention were “severe mental health problems including anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, self-harm and suicidality”.
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