Abuse rife in Aus­tralian im­mi­gra­tion facilities

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THOU­SANDS of leaked re­ports de­tail­ing al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault, child abuse and self-harm in Aus­tralian im­mi­gra­tion facilities on Nauru were pub­lished yes­ter­day, prompt­ing rights groups to re­new calls for refugees to be re­set­tled else­where.

Un­der Can­berra’s cur­rent pol­icy, asy­lum seek­ers ar­riv­ing by boat are sent to the re­mote Pa­cific is­land of Nauru or Pa­pua New Guinea’s Manus Is­land even if they are refugees.

While the flow of asy­lum boats to Aus­tralia has dried up, some 442 peo­ple re­main on tiny Nauru and al­most dou­ble that on Manus, re­fus­ing to re­turn home and de­nied re­set­tle­ment in Aus­tralia.

More than 2000 in­ci­dent re­ports leaked to The Guardian in­clude al­le­ga­tions of asy­lum seek­ers, in­clud­ing chil­dren, on Nauru fac­ing as­saults, sex­ual abuse and men­tal dis­tress.

The re­ports al­lege such in­ci­dents as guards threat­en­ing a boy with death and only al­low­ing a young woman a longer shower in re­turn for sex­ual favours.

Men­tal stress caused by pro­longed de­ten­tion was deemed to be the cause of al­leged cases of self-harm, in­clud­ing a woman try­ing to hang her­self and a girl sewing her lips to­gether.

The re­port said one girl wrote in her school book in 2014 that “she was tired, doesn’t like camp and wants to die”. It said she wrote, “I want DEATH” and “I need death”.

The Guardian said the re­ports, which are pub­lished in a redacted form to re­move iden­ti­fiers, were writ­ten by staff in the de­ten­tion cen­tre and were the largest cache of leaked doc­u­ments re­leased from in­side Aus­tralia’s im­mi­gra­tion regime.

While some of the in­ci­dents had been re­ported by the me­dia be­fore, The Guardian said its anal­y­sis of the 2116 re­ports showed that chil­dren

were the sub­ject of more than half of the re­ports.

Aus­tralian Prime Minister Mal­colm Turn­bull said the ma­te­rial would be ex­am­ined “to see if there are any com­plaints there or is­sues that were not prop­erly ad­dressed”.

But the gov­ern­ment stressed the re­ports were al­le­ga­tions, not find­ings of fact, adding Can­berra would con­tinue to sup­port Nauru to pro­vide for the wel­fare of those on the is­land.

De­spite crit­i­cism of its im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, Aus­tralia’s gov­ern­ment has strongly de­fended it, say­ing it has halted the spate of boat ar­rivals, and drown­ings, of ear­lier years.

Amnesty In­ter­na­tional and Hu­man Rights Watch last week said asy­lum seek­ers on Nauru suf­fered “se­vere abuse, in­hu­mane treat­ment, and ne­glect”.

“Aus­tralia’s off­shore pro­cess­ing of refugees must end, and all of the refugees and asy­lum seek­ers on Nauru and Manus Is­land must be re­set­tled im­me­di­ately,” Amnesty’s Anna Nei­s­tat said yes­ter­day.

UNICEF Aus­tralia also re­newed calls for a per­ma­nent re­set­tle­ment so­lu­tion, say­ing there was “un­de­ni­able, cu­mu­la­tive ev­i­dence” sug­gest­ing that trans­ferred chil­dren were not safe on Nauru. –

A pro­tester demon­strates against Aus­tralia’s im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, un­der which asy­lum seek­ers try­ing to reach the coun­try by boat are sent back or taken to Nauru, on April 30.

Photo: AFP

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