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Australia backs down over jail terms for doctors who speak out about abuse of asylum seekers

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i5681 (Published 20 October 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5681
  1. Paul Smith
  1. Sydney

The Australian government has changed controversial laws that threatened doctors with jail sentences if they spoke out about human rights abuses in the country’s immigration detention centres.

Australia’s offshore detention system has been under the international spotlight amid long running claims that detainees were living in tortuous conditions, subjected to physical and sexual abuse, as well as denied adequate medical care.1 2

Under the Australian Border Force Act introduced in June last year,3 anyone classed as an “entrusted person” working for, or on behalf of, the immigration detention system could be sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for making “unauthorised” disclosures about the situation faced by detainees.

Doctors for Refugees, an activist group, recently mounted …

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