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  1. ITV Report

Australia accused of crimes against humanity over refugee camps

Australia has refused to accept any asylum seekers who attempt to reach its shores by boat. Credit: AP

Human rights lawyers are seeking to put Australia on trial for crimes against humanity over the treatment of refugees at its UN-condemned offshore detention camps.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has been asked to examine the use of the camps on Pacific islands Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus after receiving harrowing accounts.

Hundreds of men, women and children are detained indeterminately on the islands after arriving in Australia by boat without a visa and seeking asylum.

The International Human Rights Clinic at the Stanford Law School in the US and the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) detailed a decade of worsening conditions in a 100-page submission to the ICC.

Refugees are forced to remain on the island camps, which are run by private companies. Credit: AP

They allege self-harm is at epidemic proportions at the camps. One man who died by self-immolation in April last year while a woman suffered 70% burns days later after setting herself on fire.

Reports on conditions on the islands, which were leaked last year, also claimed seven child sexual assaults and 59 physical assaults had taken place.

390
Men, women and children detained on Nauru.
872
Men, women and children detained on Manus.

Around 390 people, including 45 children, remain detained on Nauru and 872 on Manus, about 3,000km (1,864 miles) and 1,000km (621 miles) from Australia respectively.

Hundreds of others who were sent to the islands since 2008 are no longer in formal detention but have been forced to remain on the islands.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull received an angry response from Donald Trump over a deal for the US to resettle refugees in Pacific island camps. Credit: AP

The asylum seekers are told they will not be settling in Australia but are not offered any other viable resettlement alternative.

Dr Ioannis Kalpouzos, lecturer at City Law School, University of London and GLAN chairman, said: "We are witnessing the normalisation of crimes committed against the world's most vulnerable population - refugees. It is a physical and mental suffering they are going through."

The United Nations and human rights groups including Amnesty International have condemned the use of the islands, where private companies run the detention camps.

Australia last year made a commitment to close the detention centre on Manus island.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull received an angry response from US president Donald Trump earlier this month over a deal for the US to resettle refugees in Pacific island camps that was negotiated with the Obama administration.