Raped So­mali refugee to abort preg­nancy

Lesotho Times - - International -

SYD­NEY — A woman held at an Aus­tralian de­ten­tion cen­tre for asy­lum seek­ers on the South Pa­cific na­tion of Nauru has been brought to Syd­ney for med­i­cal treat­ment, her lawyer said on Mon­day, in a sign Aus­tralia’s hard­line im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies may be soft­en­ing.

Aus­tralian me­dia have re­ported that the woman is one of two So­mali refugees who claim to have been raped on tiny and des­o­late Nauru.

Asy­lum seek­ers have long been a con­tentious po­lit­i­cal is­sue in Aus­tralia, al­though it has never re­ceived any­where near the num­ber of refugees cur­rently flood­ing into Europe from the Mid­dle East and North Africa.

Suc­ces­sive Aus­tralian gov­ern­ments have vowed to stop asy­lum seek­ers reach­ing the main­land, turn­ing boats back when it can and send­ing those it can­not to de­ten­tion in camps on Manus is­land in Pa­pua New Guinea and on Nauru.

Harsh con­di­tions at the camps, in­clud­ing re­ports of sys­temic child abuse, have been strongly crit­i­cised by the United Na­tions and hu­man rights groups.

The Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald and other me­dia have re­ported that the woman is in Syd­ney to abort a preg­nancy that she al­leges was the re­sult of rape. Abor­tion is il­le­gal in Nauru.

A spokesman for Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Pe­ter Dut­ton de­clined to com­ment.

The woman’s Syd­ney lawyer, Ge­orge Ne­w­house, said she was in Aus­tralia re­ceiv­ing med­i­cal treat­ment but did not elab­o­rate.

“Our client has asked us to thank con­cerned Aus­tralians for their sup­port and the (prime min­is­ter) and the min­is­ter for im­mi­gra­tion for their un­der­stand­ing,” Ne­w­house said.

“We will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion to en­sure our client re­ceives the treat­ment and care she re­quires.”

New Prime Min­is­ter Malcolm Turn­bull said last month he was con­cerned about con­di­tions in the camps.

Aus­tralia’s high­est court is also con­sid­er­ing whether the pol­icy of send­ing asy­lum seek­ers to Nauru for long-term de­ten­tion is in breach of the con­sti­tu­tion.

Dut­ton said last week in­fer­ences should not be drawn if the woman, whose name is be­ing with­held for le­gal rea­sons, was brought to Aus­tralia.

“I have made my po­si­tion very clear. If peo­ple re­quire med­i­cal as­sis­tance, they will re­ceive it. Whether it is on Nauru or in Aus­tralia,” he said.

“But I have been very clear also about the fact that peo­ple aren’t go­ing to set­tle in Aus­tralia if they have sought to come by boat,” Dut­ton said.

The abil­ity of the Nau­ruan po­lice to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions of rape was called into ques­tion last month in an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Aus­tralian Broadcasting Cor­po­ra­tion.

Peo­ple march to a change-the-flag rally in Jack­son, Mis­sis­sippi.

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