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The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Migrant Rights Says Australia’s Refugee Island Is ‘Inhuman’

Fabrice Coffrini—AFP/Getty Images U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights of migrants François Crépeau delivers his speech during a session of the U.N. Human Rights Council on June 15, 2015, in Geneva

"Australia would vehemently protest if its citizens were treated like this"

The U.N. Special Rapporteur for the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, has described the conditions on the Pacific island of Nauru — where Australia runs an offshore immigration detention center — as “cruel, inhuman and degrading.”

His remarks came after the completion of his 18-day visit to Australia and Nauru.

“Australia would vehemently protest if its citizens were treated like this by other countries and especially if Australian children were treated like this,” the special rapporteur told Australia’s SBS.

Last month, an Amnesty International report found the conditions at Nauru tantamount to torture, citing “severe mental anguish” and the “intentional nature of the system.” (The Australian government rejected Amnesty’s assessment.)

Earlier this year, the Guardian reported at least two refugees self-immolated on the island and that at least six others had attempted suicide in a matter of days.

The Australian government’s policy of detaining undocumented asylum seekers who arrive by boat in offshore processing centers has long been a subject of controversy.

Earlier this month, Australia and the U.S. agreed to resettle many of the refugees held in Australia’s offshore centers in the U.S.

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