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Daily Brief: Australia to Close Refugee Detention Center

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August 17, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Australia to Close Refugee Detention Center

Officials from Australia and Papua New Guinea announced (SMH) their decision to close the Manus Island detention center, a facility on Papua New Guinean territory where Australia detained asylum seekers intercepted at sea. The facility has drawn criticism from human rights groups for poor conditions, and in April the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court found (BBC) it unconstitutional. The fate of the more than eight hundred asylum seekers being held there remains unclear as Australian officials say that resettling any refugees who take to sea would encourage more dangerous attempts (Reuters) to reach Australia by boat.


"Some 1,200 people are currently detained in offshore 'regional processing centers' on Manus and Nauru, thousands of miles from Australia, according to immigration authorities. The camps have been widely condemned and many have called for their closure. A 2015 Australian Senate inquiry reported that the camps had poor hygiene and provided little educational opportunities. It also documented instances of sexual assault," write Euan McKirdy, James Griffiths, and Pamela Boykoff for CNN.

"Efforts to resettle refugees in PNG have foundered. Barely a handful have been resettled outside the centre and almost all have been forced to return to detention after being assaulted, robbed, and in one case, left homeless in other parts of the country," writes Ben Doherty in the Guardian.

"The judgment was a long time coming, but the Australian government was shambolically unprepared for it. What has been strong about the offshore policy is the government’s unwavering commitment to it; but its legal, moral and logistical substance has always been weak," argues Martin McKenzie-Murray in Australia's Saturday Paper.


North Korean Diplomat Defects to the South

Thae Yong-ho, a high-ranking diplomat who was serving as the second in command in North Korea's London embassy, defected (Yonhap) to South Korea, South Korea said Wednesday. The arrival of Thae and his family to South Korea was confirmed by officials in Seoul, where he is under government protection.


Militants Ambush Security Forces in Kashmir

Unidentified gunmen ambushed (AFP) a convoy of army and police vehicles overnight Wednesday outside the Kashmiri city of Srinagar, killing two soldiers and one police officer and injuring three others, according to local police. Amid forty days of violence in the contested territory administered by India, Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar signaled his willingness to attend talks in Pakistan (Express Tribune) on crossborder terrorism, according to foreign ministry sources.


Libyan Forces Advance Against Islamic State

Fighters loyal to Libya's central government captured (Al Jazeera) a central district of the city of Sirte from the self-proclaimed Islamic State and are advancing on the last neighborhood in the city still under the group's control. The Islamic State seized Sirte last year, but has been pushed back under pressure from Libyan forces backed by U.S. air strikes.

This CFR Backgrounder traces the origins and expansion of the Islamic State.

SAUDI ARABIA: Shells fired (Reuters) across the border by Yemen's Houthi rebels landed in the southern city of Najran, killing seven civilians, Saudi state television reported. Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition struck the home of a Houthi leader outside Sana’a, killing nine family members, residents said.


African Union Soldiers Jailed For Misconduct

Nine Ugandan soldiers serving as peacekeepers for the African Union's mission in Somalia were jailed (BBC) by a military court for their roles in running an illegal fuel racket in the capital, Mogadishu. The case marks the first time a military court sitting in Somalia has disciplined members of the AU mission since troops were deployed there nine years ago.

SOUTH AFRICA: A study by international aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has found (Mail & Guardian) found that more than a quarter of women in the country's mining center of Rustenburg have been victims of rape.

CFR's John Campbell analyzes South Africa's struggle for social and economic change in this Expert Brief.


Turkey Issues Raft of Post-Coup Decrees

The government issued several decrees (DW) on Wednesday under the country's state of emergency, including one that will free 38,000 convicted criminals from jail, presumably to clear space for the thousands of alleged plotters arrested after the July coup attempt. Other decrees include the dismissal of two thousand police officers and grant the president the authority to appoint the head of the armed forces.

Turkey's turn toward authoritarianism has accelerated in the wake of this summer's coup attempt, writes CFR's Steven A. Cook in this article.

UNITED KINGDOM: Radical Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary was convicted (Telegraph) on terrorism charges after swearing his allegiance to the Islamic State and is awaiting sentencing. Choudary has long advocated for the imposition of sharia law in Britain, and police say he has connections to multiple terror plots in the UK.


Hackers Publish Possible Top-Secret NSA Code

An anonymous group of hackers published (NYT) what appears to be computer code that the U.S. National Security Agency has used to target foreign computer networks. Experts said that acquiring the code would likely have required breaking into the NSA's own servers.

BRAZIL: Deposed President Dilma Rousseff said (LAHT) in a speech to the nation Tuesday that a Senate vote to confirm her impeachment would constitute a coup and that, if acquitted, she would call for early elections.

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