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NZ gov must act to protect asylum seekers on Nauru & Manus

PRESS RELEASE: NZ government must act to protect asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island

20 September 2016

The Aotearoa New Zealand Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) strongly supports the recent letter written to the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. John Key, and the Minister for Immigration, the Hon. Michael Woodhouse, by the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) requesting the resettlement of asylum seekers from Nauru and Manus Island.

The ALHR letter urges the New Zealand government (along with the governments of the United States, Canada and Germany) to take prompt intervention in respect of the refugees on Nauru and Manus Island. We, together with ALHR, consider that pursuant to the international community’s Responsibility to Protect (R2P) – a global political commitment endorsed by all UN Member States in 2005 – the New Zealand government must act to protect asylum seekers currently on Nauru and Manus Island from potential crimes against humanity.

We urge the New Zealand government to continue to advocate and follow up on its 2013 offer of resettlement for 150 refugees from Nauru and Manus Island with Australia. Alternatively, we would urge the New Zealand government to enter into a separate arrangement directly with the governments of Papua New Guinea and/or the Republic of Nauru.

ALHR and HRLA have serious concerns regarding the conditions on Nauru and Manus Island, which have included numerous instances of assault, sexual abuse, child abuse, self-harm, and overall deplorable living conditions. Such matters continue to cause irreparable physical and emotional damage to asylum seekers and their wider families. The present conditions, in particular, have received strong condemnation from the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and they indisputably violate international norms. Further, we believe the forcible transfer and detention of asylum seekers in Nauru and Manus Island could amount to crimes against humanity.

For the full letter, please visit https://alhr.org.au/australia-will-resettle-refugees-nauru-manus-island-countries-must-alhr-writes-letters-governments-canada-germany-new-zealand-united-states-pleading-urgent-action/ or find it on the HRLA website.

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