Pacific News Minute: Over 260 People Face Deportation from Australia to Detention Camp in Nauru

Feb 8, 2016

Part of the Manus Island regional processing facility in October 2012.
Credit Wikipedia Commons

Last week, Australia's highest court upheld the government's controversial immigration policy.  On Monday, a senior official said the decision clears the way for to send more than 260 people, including 80 children, back to a migrant detention camp on the remote island of Nauru.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

There is fierce opposition from some Australians, both to the governments' immigration policy in general and to the imminent relocation in particular.  Protests are lead by the Australian Greens, by human rights groups, UNICEF and some clergy.  About 20 ministers have offered to provide asylum seekers safe haven though they admit their churches offer only moral, not legal protection.

But the policy is widely popular. The conservatives won election three years ago on a promise to turn back the boats and the opposition Labor Party agrees.  Following the Supreme Court decision, Conservative and Labor Senators combined to handily defeat a Greens proposal to offer amnesty. 

Advocates had hoped for a change when the more moderate Malcolm Turnbull replaced Tony Abbot as Prime Minister last year.  But after the court ruling, Turnbull declared that what the government calls Operation Sovereign Borders saves lives, by deterring migrants from attempting dangerous sea voyages.  "The people smugglers will not prevail over our Sovereignty," the Prime Minister told Parliament, "The line has to be drawn somewhere and it is drawn at our border." Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young said that sending children back to what she called a prison camp amounts to child abuse.  Nauru's Justice Minister, David Adeang bristled at that - calling it dishonest, unconscionable, outrageous and an insult to the people of Nauru.