Amnesty warns companies that profit from torture

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Human rights organisation Amnesty International released a report yesterday detailing how Spanish multinational Ferrovial and its Australian subsidiary, Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield), are reaping vast profits from Australia’s cruel, secretive and deliberately abusive refugee processing system on Nauru.

Broadspectrum’s $2.5 billion contract with the Federal Government ends in October and Amnesty is warning other firms about the potential damage to their reputation, as well as the legal troubles they may encounter, if they choose to bid for the contract.

In February this year, 17 international criminal law and refugee law academics submitted a case for investigation by the International Criminal Court. It outlined the potential legal liability of Australian officials and company directors for crimes against humanity on Nauru and Manus Island.

Amnesty International’s latest report, Treasure I$land, states that any company looking to provide offshore processing services at Manus Island or Nauru will be complicit in an intentionally and inherently abusive and cruel system in direct contravention of their human rights obligations.

“The Australian Government has [not only] created an island of despair for refugees and people seeking asylum on Nauru, but [also] an island of profit for companies making millions of dollars from a system so deliberately and inherently cruel and abusive it amounts to torture,” said Lucy Graham, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Business and Human Rights.

“By knowingly enabling the continuation of this system, which is specifically designed to cause suffering and deter people from travelling to Australia by boat to seek asylum, Broadspectrum and Ferrovial are unequivocally complicit in this abuse.

“The regime of cruelty at the Refugee Processing Centre on Nauru leaves a stain that no responsible company would want on its conscience or reputation.”

Ferrovial has previously stated that it would not bid for the new contracts when they became available in October, as “they are not part of its strategic business portfolio”.

Along with Ferrovial’s decision not to seek a renewal of its contract, medical services provider International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) was expelled from Manus Island last week, after the PNG government ruled that it was not licensed to practice. It has been replaced by a PNG company, which is providing only basic and emergency medical care.

Opinion: No company should profit from abuse

The Government may be deaf to the calls for closing the offshore detention camps, but businesses are certainly starting to listen, now that they can see the potential for damage to their bottom line.

Transfield Services signalled that running the camps had affected its reputation when it underwent a name change to Broadspectrum. Once Spanish company Ferrovial acquired the Australian business, it made it clear it wanted no part in any control over the camps once the current contract ended.

Once Ferrovial made this announcement, Wilson Security quickly followed suit, saying it would no longer seek to provide security services for the centres beyond its current contract, which ends in October. It also said it had no plans to tender for any further offshore detention services.

These businesses started to take notice after the successful ‘No Business In Abuse’ campaign. That campaign, organised by Get-Up, prompted supporters to email their local councils and request that Broadspectrum not be considered for upcoming contracts.

This latest Amnesty International report should serve as a dire warning for any company thinking about bidding for these services once the Government puts them up for tender.

Profiting from inhumane detention centres for asylum seekers comes at a cost, both to your reputation and your bottom line.

The great news is that grass-roots campaigns for change seem to have driven these companies to address the way they approach these contracts and, while the Government may not be willing to listen, if enough people band together and take action, at least companies will act to protect their shareholders.

The fact that so many companies are seeking to distance themselves from the camps, could force the Government to finally close the camps in October.

Do you think the Government should close the offshore refugee processing centres at Manus Island and Nauru? How would you like to see the situation resolved?

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Written by Ben

106 Comments

Total Comments: 106
  1. 0
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    Perhaps amnesty international would be well advised to go to Syria and Saudi Arabia and stir the pot rather than do it in western countries. There’s a whole world of torture (real torture) out there and they pick on Australia, to funny.

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      How can you even put the word ‘funny’ into your sentence about something so serious. Amnesty International are an organization that works to end all suffering of humans, whether it is hear or overseas.

    • 0
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      HD is completely correct. It is ‘funny’ weird, not HaHa. There is a world of difference between internees on Manus Island and the horrific scenes we see daily from Syria, Africa,Yemen et al.
      Amnesty Int. picks on easy targets. Get real.

    • 0
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      musicveg you need to eat some raw red meat and crank up a bit of Metallica to help restore some of those lost brain cells of common sense which have seemingly given way to the condition of Bleeding Heart Syndrome. …Cheers!

    • 0
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      jackyd, why attack me personally? I am voicing my opinions only. You don’t know me personally and to suggest I have lost brain cells! How rude!

    • 0
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      Now now musicveg, try and get some rest and settle down, maybe a good strong Scotch will help.

    • 0
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      There you go again jackyd, haven’t you got anything better to do than suggest I need to settle down? I think you need to stop attacking people personally and stick to the subject. And I don’t need alcohol and don’t drink anyway. Just leave me be please.

    • 0
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      Totally agree HDRider

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      Don’t mind you having an opinion musicveg but you seem to have an opinion on everyone’s opinion which in return borders between ridiculous and pathetic so please expect some banter in return.

    • 0
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      Nothing wrong with having an opinion on everyone’s opinions. But bantering? That is not light hearted fun, what you are doing you are attacking me personally which I do not expect at all. I never attacked you, am I your scapegoat for the day.

    • 0
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      musicveg, you have been using terms youself such as ignorant, heartless and don’t you get it.
      Now you inform that as well as possibly being vegetarian, you don’t use alcohol!
      Have you perhaps considered yourself as being part of the outspoken minority?
      I can only guess the music you play is in the line of ” they are coming to take me away ha ha”

    • 0
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      Stop assuming anything about me and stick to the subject. I never attacked you personally.

    • 0
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      You got that right HDRider, Amnesty International only tackle western governments because they know they are soft targets. Brings to mind the Human Rights Commission, all very quiet on the issues that really matter and in the countries where they should be speaking out on human rights issues. When was the last time you heard of them tackling middle eastern countries on genital mutilation or child brides?

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      Amnesty International like the easy way out, they are not interested in justice where it is evidently needed in those countries you mention.

  2. 0
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    Judging by what I’ve seen in documentaries about Manus and Nauru they are not Nazi concentration camps. In fact, the detention camps are constructed in a manner that causes the least harm to people, the detainees are fed, clothed, have roofs over their heads and entertaiment facilities such as TV, acces to telephone and mobile phones. Some detainees are allowed outside the gates of the centre to visit the township regularly. Management of a group of people who abused our border laws is another issue. Resistance, complaints and rebellion from groups of detainees is expected, by hook or crook, after all, they know how to abuse the laws of another country with a ‘gang-ho’ attitudes. It is sad that they bring children into their lawless idealism but that is what it is. To use the expression of “torture” in describing the conditions in both detention locations is very extreme, hysterical and slanderous. One might as well call all homeless people in Australia as suffering “torture” and all Australian people living in poverty and on welfare as suffering ” torture”. In many cases the so called “torture” of one’s destiny is self-created. just like the detainee’s destiny who ended up on Manus and in Nauru. If only they followed the legal process their destiny would have been more promising.

    • 0
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      Another ignorant comment. These people were fleeing ‘torture’ seeking refuge and we locked them up! This article is about companies making billions from keeping them locked up not about how the buildings are made and if they are fed or not.

    • 0
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      Lawless, law breakers- Nothing ignorant about that !

    • 0
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      Why shouldn’t companies managing refugee detention centres be making a profit? Hope they keep on making profit so they can operate them efficiently. After all, we live in a capitalist economy.

    • 0
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      Exactly HS and good luck to private enterprise that can get government sponsored income these days. Beats employing our own people to do the deed even if it does cost more. All benefits and no responsibility and using other people’s money to do it.

    • 0
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      Right on every count HS. These so-called asylum seekers claim to be fleeing oppression and torture but judging by their behaviour on Manus and Nauru it is more than likely they are fleeing apprehension for their lawless behaviour in their home country. We certainly don’t need them here.

    • 0
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      Musiveg you seem ti have a “big” heart, well open your home to some of these people at your own expense. the Majority of Australians do not want these so-called refugees nor any of the other economic migrants coming here, claiming to be so.

    • 0
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      Well niemakawa maybe my heart is a bit bigger than most here. If I had the money I would help more but I am already living below the poverty line. I would prefer they were able to go back to their own country and I am sure a lot of them would too if they could go back and be safe. I understand some are economic refugees but I am more concerned with those fleeing violence.

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      @musiveg, “living below the poverty line”. Come up with a better excuse if you can. I doubt none want to return to their country of origin. Their main aim is to get on the “gravy” train here then demand that their multitude of relatives are brought here to enjoy all the freebies.

  3. 0
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    I am totally opposed to the billions of dollars of taxpayer funds that are wasted keeping these Islamist ‘country shoppers’ in the lap of luxury on their Pacific holiday islands. Thoroughly vetted, front door Refugees more than welcome! Let’s hope they rot on their Pacific island playgrounds.

    (comment edited by YLC)

    • 0
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      Why did they ever want to leave the safe sanctuary of Indonesia…They were safe there…and in a Muslim country to boot. Indonesia of course doesn’t have a ‘Centrelink’, free medical or the host of other freebies we Australian Infidels dole out…Silly me!

    • 0
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      You are heartless. Assuming they are all Islamic is ignorant too.

    • 0
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      There is no assuming about it ‘musicveg’….136 declared Christian and other religions out of 1842 ‘country shoppers’ at January , 2016 – UNHCR reference statistics from both Manus and Nauru.

      That leaves 1700 Islamists….Who is the ignorant one ‘musicveg’!

      Amnesty…back in the 60’s/70’s a top humanitarian and rights organisation…totally partisan and non political…now, a swamp full of leftist malcontents…of every description – determined upon the downfall of Western democracy. Of course you would suggest I am ignorant there also.

    • 0
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      Amnesty still save a lot of people from suffering. Let’s hope you don’t need them one day. They are not political they just want to end human suffering.

    • 0
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      The entire Human Rights Charter gives Human Rights to all – including murderers who took away the Human Rights of their VICTIMS to live a full life. – Victims, their families, sons. daughters and friends of the victims are irrelevant. That’s Human Rights justice FOR YOU.

  4. 0
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    The other thing that really annoys me is that in return for the safety and facilities provided to them in the camps, they are not expected to provide anything in return. Why arn’t these people organised to do the cooking, cleaning and other associated duties.

    • 0
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      Don’t you get it? Companies are making billions by providing all the services, if the refugees did the work then no one else would get paid.

    • 0
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      Don’t care if companies lose a bit of income. Need to get these people off their arses and making a contribution. The middle eastern disease – let’s get on westerm welfare.

  5. 0
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    I am very over Amnesty International making hysterical claims.What do they expect done with people who attempt to gatecrash another sovereign country without permission? Send them back to their country of origin (if they will admit a nationality) which will refuse to accept them? Currently they have food, shelter and some medical care. It’s not brilliant but it IS survival. They made a choice now they have to live with it.The pity is they dragged the children in with them.

    • 0
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      Amnesty International is a well respected organization who is only working for human rights and to end abuse. This is about billions of dollars being made from detention centers, similar to prisons in USA. Profit for big business.

    • 0
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      musicveg – amensty international lost credibility a longtime ago. Them and their other UN cohorts see a growth industry and and making the most of it for themselves.

  6. 0
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    Well lets give the detainees the ability to return to their country of origin, if things are so bad. Maybe AI should take a look at conditions in some Australian aged care facilities and then compare – and release their findings to the public at large. Sick of these bloody do-gooders belittling what is being done for people who are trying to get into this country uninvited. Maybe AI should put a few of its dollars towards helping out!

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      The article is about profiting from detention centers, Amnesty International are working to free humans from all suffering, obviously you have never donated to them and investigated their good work.

  7. 0
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    It’s a damn shame that the 6 people who have made comments so far have not done a little basic research. Not all are Muslim. It is not illegal to seek asylum in another country. It does amount to torture when one is confined to a camp for three + years. Those that are allowed to “wander free of the camp” have been allowed to do so in order comply with the PNG high court ruling that the camp be closed. It has been, only it is now called another name. Australia is spending your money, some 3 billion each year, in order to detain people who have been recognised as refugees, in an attempt to deter others. Consider what that amount of money, YOUR MONEY, could do to the budget bottom line. I expect a hoard of criticism over this. Don’t waste your time; the facts speak for themselves.

    • 0
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      Finally someone speaking sense. Taxpayers money is being spent to help big business make profits from detaining these people, it really does always go back to money making schemes. It would be far cheaper to close the camps and bring them into Australia, because these people are caught in a situation that not one of use would be happy to be in. Making money from desperate people is criminal. Even the war in Syria is about money and politics, which go hand in hand. Many Syrians in Turkey want to go back, many that have already fled to European countries want to go back, it is their homeland, they did not flee their country they fled war. This needs to end.

    • 0
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      Easy fix there is for those persons coming to Australia who don’t have proof of identity to be sent straight back to Indonesia. End of story.

    • 0
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      Old dog, these people are queue jumpers. Other genuine refugees have died because these jumped ahead. Many have bypassed other countries to seek asylum here. The government is aware of this and that’s the reason they aren’t accepted.
      I’d like all the people that want to throw open our doors, to put their money where their mouths are and not expect the rest of us to shoulder the financial burden. It’s very easy to do a good deed at the expense of others. Offer to take them in and clothe, feed and educate them at your expense and then I’ll be impressed. Funny we never hear any of you putting up!

    • 0
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      @Leebee, don’t expect them to do such a thing. They open their mouths bit not their homes. Most of the “sympathisers’ here and in the wider community have little if any conviction in what they say, only to make them feel good. How selfish is that of them?????????/

  8. 0
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    The people remaining on Manus have choices. They can elect to remain on Manus and make a life there for themselves and their families, they can be selected to transfer to the USA (provided of course their credentials are in order and check out) or they can return to their country of origin with a golden handshake from the Australian tax payer. There are currently 861 being detained on Manus Island and NONE of them are children. Given that the courts in Manus have said the detention centres must close and that the PNG Government may become responsible for these people, why do they think they should get any more than the people of PNG get?
    Amnesty International would do far better to tackle countries where there is systematic endemic violations of human rights like many countries in the Middle East, Somalia, and so on but of course their ‘hysterical claims’ would gain no traction there. No the soft option of accusing Australia of ‘torture’ is far more headline grabbing and way more comfortable from the safety of their Eastern Suburbs lounge-rooms.

    • 0
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      This is not about headline grabbing it is about letting people know that big business are profiting from detaining humans. Amnesty International work all around the world to end human suffering.

    • 0
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      Pity musicveg you don’t understand that ‘big business’ does not lock anyone up.

      The very last organisation I would call is Amnesty International to end anything. Or have they solved the homelessness suffering in Australia, or the financial suffering of OAPs, or the trauma incurred by victims of sexual abuse and torture in every city in Australia, what about female circumcision in African countries have they ended that too? Or perhaps they have secured the release of every prisoner on death-row round the world?

      No? Then tell me why they are headline grabbing with soft options of ‘big business’ and Manus Island detainees.

    • 0
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      They are working on all those issues and more. They can only help so many with limited resources and volunteers. Why not donate so they can do more and check out their website.

  9. 0
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    Here we go again, same old same old.
    How many on shore detention centres have been closed down since the boats were stopped ? How many deaths at sea since the boats were stopped? How many unveted entries into the country since the boats were stopped? certainly not 50000 as before!
    To go soft again will start it all up as before and the cost will be as before, in the billions.
    Amnesty International lost it’s credibility decades ago.

    • 0
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      How can you say that ‘Amnesty International lost it’s credibility decades ago’ ! They work hard to free people from unjust circumstances, obviously you don’t follow their work. For example currently an English citizen is was locked up in Iran whilst visiting family for no reason and Amnesty International are the ones who are trying to free her so she can go back to her husband and kids. A teacher in Tibet is locked up for teaching kids the Tibetan language. The list goes on.

    • 0
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      Travel to Iran and not expect trouble and if so expect third parties to bail your out…sound on the edge to me.

  10. 0
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    The article is about profiting from detaining humans! Prisons in the USA work the same way. They lock up people to make money. NO COMPANY SHOULD PROFIT FROM ABUSE, read the article before commenting and jumping to another issue.

    • 0
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      Any Company that doesn’t make a profit fails…what a stupid argument that these companies profit from abuses…they are there to do a job and they do it very well!

    • 0
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      Neither the prisons nor the companies running them lock anyone up. The courts do that. The Government does that by legislating laws that are violated. The companies are like any other company they employ people and are entitled to make a profit.

      Making a profit is not a crime nor a violation of anyone’s rights.

    • 0
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      How do you know they do the job well jackyd? I realize that courts and governments lock people up, what I was saying is it right for any company to make money from locking people up? They may have a right to make profits but is it morally right?

    • 0
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      They are not charities. Nor are they Government departments. Of course it is fine to make a profit.

    • 0
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      What a stupid comment. People are locked up in prisons for committing crimes. Poor musicveg so blinkered the truth just cannot be seen. Would you operate a business without any intention of making a profit? Then again, perhaps with your views you would. It sounds like musicveg would be quite happy for any and all law breakers to be free to roam the streets do as they will with no fear of incarceration.

    • 0
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      Don’t assume what I would be happy with, there are already law breakers roaming our streets every day and always have been. Our justice system is too lenient for what matters like violent crimes. Not one reasonable answer to what can be done except send them back which is impossible if their country is ravaged with war. How would you feel?

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