UN chief asks PM to reconsider boat turnback policy



UN leader Ban Ki-moon has raised objections with the Coalition’s boat turnback policy, requesting the PM revaluate the policy during a meeting in Malaysia.

The meeting took place on the margins of the Asean summit in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, with the UN boss taking aim at detention conditions in Australia’s offshore processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

“The secretary general expressed concern over the detention conditions in Australia’s offshore processing centres and encouraged the prime minister to reconsider Operation Sovereign Borders,” a summary of the meeting issued by the UN said.

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Other issues that were part of the discussion were the prevention of violent extremism and climate change, with Ban encouraging Australia to “lead efforts to efforts to ensure a low-carbon, climate-resilient future”.

According to the statement, the pair swapped ideas on climate change negotiations ahead of the meeting of world leaders in Paris next month.

Ban cited refugees and migrants in the Asia Pacific region as another concern. He highlighted Australia’s “longstanding commitment to refugee resettlement” and “appealed to the prime minister to share responsibilities”.

This is not the first time Australia’s boat and offshore policies have come under fire by the UN, with the issue being previously discussed at a UN Human Rights Council performance review in Geneva. However, this is the first instance of a face-to-face plea.

Earlier this year, Labor also agreed to take the Coalition’s policy on board, agreeing to consider turning boats around where it is safe to do so.

Mr Turnbull has maintained the secrecy of his predecessor on Operation Sovereign Borders, commenting on Friday the government would not reveal details about a reported boat arrival because “we do not comment on operational matters”.

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