Intended for healthcare professionals


Australian doctors face two years in jail for reporting asylum seekers’ health

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 01 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3008
  1. Michael Woodhead
  1. 1Sydney

Doctors in Australia have vowed to fight a new law that threatens them with two years in jail if they speak out about abuse and poor conditions in detention centres for asylum seekers.

The new legislation has been enacted as part of the Australian government’s hardline “stop the boats” policy that transfers people arriving by boat in Australian waters to offshore detention centres on distant Pacific islands such as Nauru. Conditions in the immigration detention centres have been condemned as “appalling” by healthcare workers, who have reported unhygienic and overcrowded accommodation in tents, substandard medical care, sexual and physical abuse of children, and mental health problems among asylum seekers subject to indefinite detention.

The government’s own report conceded that conditions were harsh on the tropical islands, which have limited infrastructure and where detainees are at risk of diseases such as malaria.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians last week called for an end to the …

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