Morrison hits back at bad UN rap

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has hit back at UN criticism of Australia's treatment of asylum seekers.

The incoming UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, used his first speech in Geneva to censure the Abbott government's policy of processing asylum seekers offshore and turning back boats.

The policy was leading to a chain of human rights violations including arbitrary detention and possible torture after asylum seekers were returned to home countries, he said.

The likely resettlement of processed refugees on Nauru to ill-equipped countries such as Cambodia was also a concern.

Mr Morrison rejected Mr Al Hussein's criticism.

"The most flagrant abuse of human rights I am aware of is the beheading and crucifying of people in Syria and Iraq, where Australia is seeking to relieve the humanitarian crisis," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mr Morrison indicated he would be pleased to meet with the commissioner to discuss his concerns.

The speech covered a range of other issues including Syria and Iraq.

Mr Al Hussein, from Jordan, replaces South African Navi Pillay as commissioner.