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Nauru prison camp: Australia accused of flouting laws
17 October 2016
In a new report, the human rights group accuses Australia of flouting the UN’s Refugee Convention, on the Pacific Island of Nauru.
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas reports from Sydney.
By Solomon Hughes in Britain:
Friday 25th November 2016
THANKS to privatisation of government services, the firm that owns and runs Heathrow airport also makes a profit helping run Australia’s refugee detention centres, which are based on remote islands and subject of many complaints about abuse.
The link is so strong that one of Heathrow’s directors is also a director of the firm profiting from refugee misery.
Again, this link is so strong that there are directors who run the British and Australian firms at the same time.
Heathrow is owned and operated by Ferrovial, a Spanish multinational. Ferrovial was founded as a railway company by Rafael Del Pino Snr. The Del Pino Family still have a big stake in the firm, which is run by his son, Rafael Del Pino Jnr.
The long wave of privatisation means that industrial firms like Ferrovial have been drawn into lucrative “services” contracts, running formerly state assets or public services.
Ferrovial’s big foothold in Britain is Heathrow, which it bought in 2006.
However, Ferrovial has been hungry for services contracts around the world. Earlier this year it took over an Australian services corporation called Broadspectrum.
This Australian firm has some much less glamorous contracts than Heathrow.
It is the main contractor operating some immigration detention centres for the Australian government that have been denounced as illegal sinks of abuse and misery.
The relationship between Heathrow and Broadspectrum is not a distant one.
Ferrovial’s man Fidel Lopez is chief executive of Broadspectrum. He is also a director of Heathrow.
As well as running Heathrow, Ferrovial runs many public services in Britain, because it owns privatisation specialist Amey.
Thanks to the sell-offs and contracting out, Amey cleans and maintains hospitals and schools and all kinds of local council services up and down Britain.
The relationship between Broadspectrum and Amey is even closer. Santiago Olivares and Alfredo Garcia Lopez are both simultaneously directors of Broadspectrum and Amey. Broadspectrum chief executive Fidel Lopez was also previously an Amey director.
Broadspectrum is central to the Australian government’s brutal “Pacific solution” for asylum-seekers: no person who arrives in the country by boat seeking asylum can ever settle in Australia.
Amnesty International has called these “islands of despair,” where asylum-seekers are left isolated in grim, prison-like conditions that have bred self-harm, violent crime, abuse and riots.
Broadspectrum has contracts for what it calls “providing garrison and welfare services at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s offshore processing centres on Nauru and Manus” — it is paid to run these miserable island prisons, where asylum-seekers are stuck in hot vinyl tents with regular searches, limited cleaning facilities and filthy toilets.
Broadspectrum subcontracted another firm, Wilson Security, to guard the asylum-seekers it was paid to house.
Wilson was accused of handcuffing children and assaulting inmates. There have been many protests against Broadspectrum’s involvement with Manus and Nauru detention centres in Australia.
In April, the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea ordered than the Manus centre on its soil should be closed because of the “unconstitutional and illegal detention of the asylum-seekers” on the island.
So Broadspectrum profits from the despair and illegal detention of asylum-seekers, while its sister firms run Heathrow along with British hospital and school services.
This is what privatisation has done — turned everyone from patients to schoolkids to maltreated asylum-seekers into profitable opportunities.
The US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has once more damned Australia’s barbaric treatment of refugees and its “failure to protect children in detention,” as well as the country’s repressive counter-terrorism laws. The indictment was published in HRW’s annual World Report 2017, which catalogues violations of human rights in around 90 countries: here.
Reports expose Australian government coverup of armed attack on Manus Island detainees: here.
At the Australian-run detention centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG), asylum seekers are being forced into worsening living conditions, including the disconnection of electricity. The Australian government is seeking to force them into a less secure facility, from where they will be dumped in PNG to live in impoverished conditions: here.