Australia drops asylum-seeker secrecy laws


SYDNEY: Australia is scrapping secrecy laws designed to stop whistleblowers from speaking out about alleged abuse at offshore asylum-seeker detention camps, in a move which campaigners Monday hailed as a victory for free speech. The secrecy provisions were introduced in 2015, making it a jailable offense for immigration department workers to speak out about conditions in the centers. But Immigration Minister Peter Dutton last week moved an amendment to the law to restrict the definition of unauthorized disclosures to information relating to the national or public interest. He told parliament last week the 2015 changes had “not kept pace with the developments in the modern border environment.” Asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat are either turned back or sent to remote camps in Nauru and on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. Refugee advocates and medical professionals have long criticized conditions in the camps, where some detainees have been held for years.



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