Written by Bella Dalima
17 Jul, 2014 | 9:17 pm
Amnesty International has called on the Australian government to return the 153 asylum seekers detained at sea for three weeks back to shore to have their claims processed.
According to The Guardian, court documents have shown that the asylum seekers, around 37 of whom are understood to be children, are being held in harsh conditions on an Australian ship understood to be the customs vessel Ocean Protector.
The claim document, submitted as part of an ongoing high court challenge to the legality of asylum seeker’s detention, revealed they are being held in windowless locked rooms, with no access to translators and with family groups being split up.
Amnesty International Australia’s refugee campaign Co-ordinator Graeme McGregor is quoted as saying “We have grave concerns at reports from lawyers that they must request permission to move from one room to the other and can only leave their rooms in the presence of a guard”.
He adds “Detaining men, women and children on a boat, locked in rooms without windows and severely restricting their communication with the outside world with no access to translators, is inhumane.”
On Thursday, the Australian government again refused to give details on the fate of the 153 but maintained they were in the “good care” of Australian customs.
The UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, have voiced “profound concern” at the fate of those on board, with prominent Australian human rights barrister Julian Burnside describing their ongoing detention as an act of piracy.
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