Malcom Turnbull.jpg
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Photograph: EPA/DAVID MOIR AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Amnesty International has criticized the Australian border control policy as "shameful," urging countries "to reject the model of abuse" that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is promoting, a statement said Tuesday.

"Instead of doing its fair share for the world's most vulnerable people, the Australian government is trapping thousands on remote islands and then promoting these abusive practices as a solution to the world," Graham Thom, refugee coordinator for Amnesty International Australia, said in the statement.

Since 2013, Australia has intercepted all asylum seekers travelling by sea and either turns their boats back or processes their claims offshore in places such as Papua New Guinea or on Nauru.

On Monday, during an address to the first-ever high-level UN summit on migration, Turnbull defended his country's strict border controls, saying that kind of control over irregular migration creates the "confidence" needed for governments to "mitigate risk and focuses humanitarian assistance on those who need it the most."

Turnbull said that every country needed to create its own border security measures, noting, "not every country is an island."

"The unregulated movement of people globally is growing fast ... We need measures to create order out of the resulting chaos if we are to provide safe pathways for refugees and target those who are most in need," Turnbull said.

But Thom said it was "absolutely shameful to see our prime minister stand on the world stage and champion the systematic abuse of thousands of women, children and men on remote islands as a model others should follow."

"This is completely the wrong pathway for the world to follow at a time with record global displacement," he said. "Cruelty and shirking responsibility will not solve this global situation and it shows just how out of step Prime Minister Turnbull is with global reality."

The Amnesty International statement also called on Australia to bring those in detention to Australia for processing and settlement and urged the government to increase its annual humanitarian refugee intake to 30,000.

"Australia is one of the richest countries in the world, yet our government is failing to play a fair part in providing sanctuary for those fleeing conflict and persecution," Thom said.

Last week, a report by UNICEF and Save the Children said Australia, since 2013, had spent 9.6 billion Australian dollars (7.2 billion US dollars) on its asylum policy, including spending on mandatory detention, boat returns and offshore processing.

The report said offshore processing in Nauru and Papua New Guinea cost 400,000 dollars per asylum seeker per year.

An estimated 1,300 asylum seekers are currently languishing in the two offshore detention centres in the Pacific.

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