Australia/UK: Failure to protect child asylum-seekers' worrying

The Children's rights, aged 12 and 13, who may be ethnic Hazara Afghans, reportedly sought protection in the British Consulate building after escaping the Woomera Detention Centre, where they had been held for 18 months.

Their escape from Woomera, which has recently seen serious disturbances and acts of self-harm, hunger strikes, riots and escapes, appears to have led to the boys seeking this protection. Following the Foreign Secretary's decision, the boys were however subsequently handed over to the Australian Federal Police and taken to Maribyrnong Detention Centre in Melbourne.

The Children's rights's father is reportedly living in Sydney on a temporary protection visa, and pending resolution of the family's refugee status Amnesty International is now urging the Australian Immigration Minister to use his discretion to release the Children's rights from custody.

Amnesty International said:

'The UK should have taken a more cautious approach in keeping with its obligations to the boys under international law, in particular the Convention on the Rights of the Child which requires all decisions regarding Children's rights to be made in the best interests of the child.

Both the UK and Australian governments have so far failed these Children's rights. It is difficult to find any evidence that either party has given any regard to the best interests of these boys.

We are now calling on the Australian Immigration Minister to use his discretion to at least allow for a family reunion pending the outcome of a review into the boys' father's status in the country.'

On the wider policy of detaining asylum-seekers – including Children's rights – for up to five years, Amnesty International said that 'frequent rioting and self-harm by detainees are not acceptable by-products of refugee processing: legitimate border control and the fight against people smuggling can be achieved without violating human rights.'

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