There’s a solid reason that the government’s insidious refugee camps on Manus Island and Nauru are often referred to as “torture camps”: that the conditions and treatment faced by the desperate, fleeing refugees are akin to human torture.

The fact that seven asylum seekers have died, either due to injuries sustained at the camps or by suicide, combined with repeated condemnation from international human rights organisations should be enough for any sane person to understand joking about torture regarding our country’s treatment of refugees is beyond the pale.

But nope, apparently not, with the head of the Immigration Department Mike Pezzullo today cracking an attempt at a torture joke whilst in Senate Estimates discussing the impending closure of the Manus Island offshore detention centre.

Pezzullo was being questioned by the Greens’ Nick McKim about the PNG camp, which is set to be closed on October 31 with the fate of around 600 men still in the camp yet to be made clear, when he again denied accusations of torture, saying “The only torture I am aware of is sometimes when we have to appear here.”

McKim rightfully took offence to the wildly inappropriate statement, responding with “I don’t think torture is a laughing matter, Mr Pezzullo”.

The Turnbull government says that alternate housing arrangements are being made for the remaining refugees in the camp, ahead of electricity and water being shut off and the PNG military taking over control of the camp October 31.

Source: HuffPo
Image: AAP / Mick Tsikas