Australia condemns 'malicious' detention

·1-min read

Australia has joined more than 55 countries to condemn the malicious use of politically motivated arbitrary detention.

The joint statement comes a week after Beijing confirmed the formal arrest of Australian journalist Cheng Lei on suspicion of illegally supplying state secrets and follows a long-running campaign by Canada to raise the plight of two citizens detained in China.

It also comes after an Australian economic adviser to elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested during a military coup in Myanmar.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australia would hold countries to account for their obligations to comply with international laws and commitments.

"Australia is standing with more than 55 international partners against the practice of arbitrary detention in state-to-state relations," Senator Payne said on Tuesday.

"The right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention is guaranteed in international law and states must comply with their international human rights law obligations."

Senator Payne also argued the COVID-19 pandemic should not be used as a pretext for reducing or removing access to justice and consular assistance for people in detention.

"Upholding our commitment to international human rights is one of the most important measures of the success of our societies," she said.

"It is important we speak together and demonstrate our commitment to the international rules, norms and institutions that support stability and prosperity, underpin human rights and enable global co-operation."