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09 March 2015

UN report to state Australia is in breach of international torture convention

An independent expert has found aspects of Australia's asylum-seeker policies have breached the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

A report addressing concerns about Manus Island, as well as recent amendments to maritime laws, is due to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council today.

It was prepared by Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture.

Human Rights Law Centre director of legal advocacy Daniel Webb says the report finds detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island, and conditions at the centre, violate the convention.

Mr Webb says the torture convention prohibits subjecting people to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the report confirms Australia is failing to meet this basic standard.

The Manus Island detention centre has been the focus of ongoing detainee protests, including hunger strikes and violence.

In February, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the government to reconsider its refugee policy.

It was reported last week that the Abbott government is facing a legal challenge that seeks to hold the Commonwealth legally responsible for conditions in its overseas detention camps.