Leichhardt Council puts human rights before business with Transfield and Wilson Security

detention centreLeichhardt Council is considering a boycott of all business activities with Transfield and the Wilson Group of companies over concerns about human rights abuses at Australian-funded asylum seeker processing centres operated by those companies on Nauru and Manus Island.

Citing ongoing reports of human rights violations in the camps including assault, rape, torture and denial of proper medical treatment Leichhardt Council has called for a report on any current business it conducts with Transfield and the Wilson Group of companies with a view to excluding them from the list of companies that the Council will deal with.

The motion was moved by Greens Councillor Craig Channells.

“Leichhardt Council has been a leading Council in making refugees welcome and calling for the closure of detention centres since 2004. The Council can’t continue to be supportive of refugees and asylum seekers while doing business with companies that profit from running camps where human rights abuses are committed against those same people.” Councillor Channells said.

Reports by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Moss Review as well as Amnesty International have exposed widespread human rights abuses in the detention centres.

 

Background and Council resolution below

Notice of Motion – Report into boycott of Transfield and Wilsons Group

Background
Whilst many counties around the world welcome refugees and those seeking asylum Australia has a policy of mandatory detention.

One of the apparent aims of this mandatory detention policy is that asylum seekers will be no better off seeking asylum in Australia than they would be if they waited in their country of origin.  That is to say that mandatory detention is to be perceived as worse than the situation faced by an asylum seeker who is fleeing persecution, torture and war zones.

However, seeking asylum and refuge is not illegal and Australia is continuing to indefinitely detain people who have sought our help and have committed no crime.

There have been a significant number of reports which have led to a public outcry over the negative physical, mental and social impact this policy is having on those being held indefinitely.

The operational secrecy of this policy was recently highlighted by the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants cancelling a visit to inspect Australia’s offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.  Concerns were raised by the Special Rapporteur, Francois Crepeau, on the ability of those working within the centres to freely report issues and concerns regarding the running of the centre and presumably those being detained.

“This threat of reprisals with persons who would want to cooperate with me on the occasion of this official visit is unacceptable,” Francois Crepeau said.

The Australian Government is aided in this process and policy by companies such as Transfield and Wilsons who have been contracted to provide the detention facilities on Manus and Naru Island.

Several organisations including the Superannuation fund – HESTA, The Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) & the Biennale of Sydney have either called for boycotts or divested their interests in Transfield.

Leichhardt Council has a purchasing policy “requiring staff to consider environmental, social and economic impacts of their purchasing decisions.”

It is therefore incumbent on Council to consider the impact that these companies are having on asylum seekers and refugees.

Recommendation

That Council provide a report;

  1. On any current investments in or contracts with the Transfield and Wilsons Group of companies.
  2. On the possibility of any future contracts with the Transfield and Wilsons Group of companies.
  3. On the possibility and legality of council excluding the Transfield and Wilsons Group of companies from any future contracts, tenders or other business dealings.