Protest targets Australian refugee camp company meeting

Protesters disrupt Australian immigration camp operator company meeting

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A protester holds a placard during a rally in support of refugees in central Sydney, Australia, October. 19, 2015.

About 100 protesters on Wednesday disrupted an annual meeting of the company that runs Australia’s overseas immigrant detention camps, accusing the company of being involved in human rights abuses in the camps.

Transfield Services Ltd chairwoman Diane Smith-Gander denied the accusations and said the company solely provides support services for the camps, saying they are "not responsible for those policies and we play no part in their development."

The UN and reports from human rights groups say that refugees in the camps are facing systemic abuse and sexual assault.

However, the company’s Chief executive, Grame Hunt, said they have "zero tolerance" towards mistreatment of detainees and denied any involvement in abuses at the camps.

The company has been paid by the Australian government to manage immigration facilities in the islands of Nauru and Manus since 2014, and is hoping to renew its contract for 5 more years for $1.9 billion.

Refugees who try to reach the Australian coast are transferred to Australian immigration detention camps on the Pacific island nation of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.  

The Australian government’s immigration policy has received criticism worldwide from human right groups.

Criticism intensified after a 23 year old Somali woman said she had been raped on Nauru island and denied access to Australia for medical treatment and assistance.

The United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, said, “The government of Australia, by failing to provide adequate detention conditions; end the practice of detention of children; and put a stop to the escalating violence and tension at the regional processing centre, has violated the right of the asylum seekers including children to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

TRTWorld and agencies