Business Standard

Australia to reopen controversial detention centre

IANS  |  Canberra 

The announced on Wednesday the reopening of a controversial detention centre on Island a day after it lost a vote on a bill to help evacuate critically ill refugees from to get treatment in the country.

Tuesday's development was a major blow to Scott Morrison's minority government's highly controversial policy. He says the law would weaken the nation's tough border policies and embolden human traffickers.

Opponents accuse him of spreading fear before an impending election.

The bill facilitating medical evacuations of refugees on and to was approved on Tuesday in the and ratified by the

Following that, the on Wednesday said that the government would re-open the Island centre "to deal with the prospect of arrivals... and transfers" - arguing both were now more likely, the reported.

Morrison said the reopening of island centre would strengthen the capacity of Operation Sovereign Borders, the government's controversial border protection operation aimed at stopping boat arrivals to the country.

"My job now is to ensure that the boats don't come. My job now is to do everything within my power and in the power of the government to ensure that what the parliament has done to weaken our borders does not result in boats coming to "

Christmas island, an Australian territory located on 380 km from Indonesia's Java island, was until 2012 the point of arrival of boats of undocumented migrants trying to seek asylum in the Oceanic country.

In 2010, a boat of 90 asylum seekers - mostly from and - sank off the island, killing 50 people on board.

then toughened its policy against illegal and in 2012 reopened its on and island, keeping asylum seekers out of Australia, and where a thousand remain in conditions widely criticized by medical professionals, rights groups and the UN.

has long defended its offshore detention policy by arguing that it stops deaths at sea and disrupts the trade of people smuggling.

The reopening of the centre on Christmas island, which was closed in 2018, has been announced a few months before an election in Australia. The date has not been announced but it is expected to be in May.

Many of the immigrants that Australia intercepts have fled conflict-ridden countries or such as Afghanistan, Darfur, Pakistan, and Syria, or have escaped conditions of discrimination or statelessness such as the minority Rohingyas in or the Biduns in the



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 13 2019. 13:58 IST