Tent accommodation for irregular maritime arrivals in Nauru.
Tent accommodation for irregular maritime arrivals in Nauru. Department of Immigration and Citizenship

Wilke calls for human rights inquiry on border protection

INDEPENDENT MP Andrew Wilkie has called on the International Criminal Court to investigate claims the Abbott government is committing crimes against humanity through its border protection policies.

Mr Wilkie and human rights lawyer Greg Barns on Wednesday wrote to the court asking it to launch an investigation.

The letter claims Australia's asylum seeker detention policies, including mandatory detention of refugees arriving by boat on Nauru and Manus Island, breach several human rights conventions.

Among them, Mr Wilkie said the "forcible deportation, detention without trial, detention of children and the conditions of detention" breached the international Rome Statute's crimes against humanity provisions.

"The Abbott government's conduct in relation to asylum seekers also contravenes the Refugee Convention, Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," he said.

"The government is pandering to racism, xenophobia and selfishness instead of acting like leaders.

"This is why I've asked the prosecutor to initiate an investigation into the Prime Minister and the Cabinet because, if they won't listen to the swathe of community outrage, then hopefully they'll listen to the International Criminal Court."

But Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement that its policies were "consistent with our domestic laws and our international obligations".

Mr Morrison said the government would "not be intimidated by attention-seeking advocates", saying they were calling for a return to "failed policies of the past".

However, the letter follows reports of physical and sexual abuse inside the offshore detention centre network.

Mr Morrison has begun an investigation into the abuse claims.

Mr Barns said he and Mr Wilkie were asking the ICC's prosecutors to "gather information, analyse evidence" and report to the court's pre-trial chamber asking it to launch a full investigation.