Abbott urged to explain asylum seeker identity breach

THE Federal Opposition has urged the Abbott Government to explain how the identity of thousands of asylum seekers in onshore and offshore detention centres was made public.

The likely breach of the privacy act was revealed in a Guardian Australia report, which said the identities of up to 10,000 asylum seekers was inadvertently made public on the Immigration Department's website.

It is understood the information has been removed from the public domain, and the department has ordered an internal investigation into the release.

Opposition Immigration spokesman Richard Marles said it showed the government's policy of secrecy on asylum seekers could not be supported if the government was unable to protect refugee's identity.

He called on Immigration Minister Scott Morrison for an explanation of how the release happened.

It comes after a tragic week for asylum seekers held in Australian-mandated detention centres, after 77 asylum seekers were suffered head injuries and one person died during a riot at the Manus Island detention centre.

While the specific circumstances that triggered what Mr Morrison has described as a "disturbance" have not yet been released, the Opposition and human rights advocates have urged the government to start an independent inquiry into the incident.

Mr Marles on Wednesday said he would be briefed on what had happened, but that an internal departmental inquiry was not enough, calling for an independent body to investigate the case.

His comments echoed those of Australian Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs, who called for a wider inquiry into all detention centres on Wednesday.

She told ABC Radio it was time for a fully independent inquiry into both onshore and offshore detention centres, for the public to have confidence in the outcomes of any such investigation.


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