UN torture body abandons attempts to inspect Australian detention sites

A UN prevention of torture committee has canceled a visit to Australian places of detention citing "obstacles" imposed in some states.

Brisbane, Australia (CNN)A United Nations body committed to preventing torture has terminated its review of Australian places of detention after authorities in some states refused to let them in -- joining Rwanda as the only other country where a visit has been terminated.

In a statement, the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) said it was canceling the remainder of a 12-day tour that was suspended last year due to "obstacles" in carrying out its mandate.
"Despite the good cooperation the Subcommittee has with the Australian Federal Authorities following our initial mission, there is no alternative but to terminate the visit as the issue of unrestricted access to all places of deprivation of liberty in two states has not yet been resolved," SPT chairperson Suzanne Jabbour said in the statement.
    Last October, the SPT said it had been prevented from visiting several places in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, calling it a "clear breach" of Australia's obligations under the UN's OPCAT (Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) agreement designed to protect detainees' human rights.
      Australia is one of 91 signatories to the agreement, which allows inspectors to make unannounced visits to all places of detention, including police stations, immigration detention centers and social care institutions. The UN and human rights groups have long criticized Australia's treatment of detainees, particularly refugees and asylum seekers who are subject to long periods of offshore detention if they arrive in the country by boat.
      A spokesperson for Australia's Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the "disappointing decision" to terminate the visit doesn't reflect the federal government's "commitment to protecting and promoting human rights."
      In partial findings published in November, the SPT said it was concerned about the mandatory detention of people who arrive in Australia without a valid visa, including child