Ex-Judge Offers 'Body Swap' With Detained Refugee

He denounces Australia's 'utterly immoral' system
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2016 8:06 AM CDT
Iranian asylum seekers who were caught in Indonesian waters while sailing to Australia sit on a boat at Benoa port in Bali, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati, File)

(Newser) – Retired Australian judge Jim Macken thinks his county's system of offshore refugee detention is shameful—and he has offered to trade places with somebody ensnared in it. Macken, 88, says he has written to immigration minister Peter Dutton and offered a "body swap" with somebody in a camp in Nauru or on Indonesia's Manus Island, the Guardian reports. "I understand this is an unusual request but I offer it in complete sincerity," Macken wrote. "My reason for making this proposal is simple. I can no longer remain silent as innocent men, women, and children are being held in appalling circumstances on Manus Island and Nauru."

"It is even worse that they are being held in these dangerous and inhospitable conditions in order to ensure no other asylum seekers and refugees attempt to come to Australia for protection," he wrote. "The Australian government is essentially treating refugees in these camps as human shields and this is utterly immoral." Macken wrote that he would consider it a "privilege" to live out his final years in one of the camps in return for a refugee becoming an Australian citizen. He says he isn't making the offer for publicity and will happily make the swap without it being publicly announced, the BBC reports. (Australia has been accused of covering up "routine dysfunction and cruelty" at the Nauru camp, including hundreds of incidents involving children.)

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