The Australian government confirmed it had excluded offshore detention facilities in the islands of Manus and Nauru in its obligation to prevent the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of people in detention, following the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) this week.
The move has been widely criticised by human rights groups who have long cited ongoing allegations of torture of asylum seekers detained within the facilities, which include a number of Tamils who have fled Sri Lanka.
"The whole purpose of this treaty is to prevent abuse through transparency. It defeats that purpose if our Government can just decide to keep its deepest darkest sites of misery and suffering deliberately shielded from scrutiny," director of legal advocacy at Human Rights Law Centre, Daniel Webb said.
Pointing out that the ratification comes ahead of Australia's member status at the Human Rights Council Mr Webb said, "our Government knows it needs to get its house in order if it wants to command respect and credibility on the world stage. But with 2000 innocent men, women and children still languishing in limbo on Manus and Nauru after four and a half years, our Government clearly has an awfully long way to go."