UNHCR welcomes proposed UNHCHR Australia mission
UNHCR would welcome the proposed mission by a Special Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) to visit the Woomera detention centre in Australia. As you know, the detention issue has been of concern to UNHCR for months and we have raised those concerns on numerous occasions with the Australian government.
A little less than a year ago, for example, we passed to the government an Aide Mémoire indicating our concerns about the mandatory detention of asylum seekers who arrive in an unauthorised way in Australia. We encouraged Australia to consider alternatives to detention, especially for children and their primary caregivers. We also expressed concerns in that Aide Mémoire about the treatment of asylum seekers in detention, including the length some of them spend in detention. Unfortunately, we have not seen much progress. It is also worth noting that UNHCR does visit detention centres, but we do not undertake comprehensive monitoring of conditions in detention which, in any case, would be inappropriate given our fundamental reservations about the policy. We would in any event welcome a visit by a Special Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, whose mandate is complementary to our own.