Time to take a stand on Aussie human rights abuses

The Prime Minister must get some guts and rule out supporting Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council after an Amnesty International report condemned it for breaching the human rights of asylum seekers, the Green Party said today.

A concerning report by Amnesty International condemned Australia over its treatment of asylum seekers, finding that it breached international law by paying people smugglers to turn boatloads of asylum seekers around, sending those on board back to possible torture and death.

“The so called mateship New Zealand and Australia share cannot be an excuse for standing by while Australia breaches the rights of asylum seekers and others, including New Zealand citizens in detention,” Green Party human rights spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.

John Key has previously refused to say whether he supports Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. Even after Australia has been cited for 143 human rights breaches over its treatment of detainees, including hundreds of Kiwis.

And earlier this year the Prime Minister said the scandal over the paying of people smugglers by Australian authorities to turn boats around was a matter for Australia.

“These are desperate people, including children, who have travelled thousands of kilometres and risked everything to escape unthinkable horror at home. To do nothing and let the illegal and inhumane treatment of those people go unchallenged is not the New Zealand way,” Ms Delahunty said.

“It’s time for the National Government to take a stand and say New Zealand won’t support a country that has been cited 143 times for breaches of human rights – because to support Australia’s bid would be to endorse its behaviour.

“It may be awkward  for John Key to take a stand against Australia but this is the kind of leadership he signed up for when he sought a seat on the United Nation’s Security Council.

“John Key must rule out supporting Australia’s bid for the Human Rights Council.

“We would also call on him to back Amnesty’s call for a Royal Commission to investigate Australia’s treatment of the asylum seekers,” Ms Delahunty said.