Aussie PM slams Amnesty’s refugee camp torture claims
AMNESTY International’s claims that Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on the Pacific island of Nauru amounts to torture are “absolutely false”, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday.
Canberra sends asylum seekers trying to reach Australia by boat to Nauru but the camp’s conditions have been criticised by refugee advocates and medical professionals.
The asylum seekers are blocked from being resettled in Australia even if found to be refugees.
Amnesty said in a report on October 17 that asylum seekers and refugees on tiny Nauru were “driven to absolute despair” and were struggling with an “epidemic of self-harm”, adding that their living conditions fit international law’s definition of torture.
Mr Turnbull blasted the allegations and said his country’s tough policies stopped people dying at sea on dangerous boat journeys.
“I reject that claim totally. That is absolutely false,” he said of Amnesty’s charge of systematic neglect and cruelty on Nauru.
Amnesty’s senior director for research Anna Neistat, who travelled to Nauru for the report, said her organisation did not “come to these conclusions [about torture] easily”.
Ms Neistat slammed the veil of secrecy around the centres, saying she had to travel to Nauru in a personal capacity after her official applications were rejected six times.
A former case manager on Nauru, Sandra Bartlett, said she was terrified about the legal consequences of speaking out but that “more people will die” if action was not taken immeditely.