Aid Agency Rejects Nauru Detention Claims
3 October 2014 at 5:54 pm
Aid agency Save the Children has rejected claims that their staff at the Nauru Detention Centre have fabricated allegations of abuse and self harm.
The rebuff from the Not for Profit comes as the Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison announced an independent review into allegations of inappropriate conduct by contracted service providers at the Nauru Offshore Processing Centre (OPC).
The Minister said that allegations may have been fabricated as part of an orchestrated campaign, involving service provider staff to undermine the government's border protection policies.
“The Government takes allegations of misconduct by employees of contracted service providers at the Nauru OPC very seriously, particularly allegations of abuse or sexual misconduct,” Morrison said.
‘It is also of great concern to receive reports that such allegations may have been fabricated as part of a wider campaign by staff, acting in concert with external advocates, to seek to change government policy.”
Save the Children CEO Paul Ronalds said he rejected "in the strongest possible terms" any suggestions that his had "in any way fabricated stories of abuse or in anyway encouraged self harm”.
Ronalds said no information had been provided to the organisation about the new inquiry or the allegations of inappropriate conduct by his staff.
“We are standing by our staff,” Ronalds told the ABC.
Scott Morrison said that when the allegations of serious misconduct involving sexual abuse were raised with me, he referred them to his Department for assessment and advice.
“In the course of the week I was alerted to additional reporting that cast doubt on the integrity of these abuse allegations and the probability of additional activity by some service provider staff, working with advocates outside Nauru, seeking to undermine the government's border protection policies,” he said.
“This matter needs to be resolved. Allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct are serious and need to be addressed and action taken wherever necessary.
“Equally the government must have confidence that service providers act with professionalism and in accordance with their contractual obligations. They are employed to do a job, not to be political activists.
“Making false claims, and worse allegedly coaching self-harm and using children in protests is unacceptable, whatever their political views or agendas.”
Morrison said that the Acting Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has commissioned Phillip Moss to conduct an independent investigation into all of these matters.
Moss is the former Integrity Commissioner and former head of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI).
Moss has served the Australian Government's law enforcement and integrity communities with distinction since July 2007, when he was appointed the inaugural Integrity Commissioner.
Moss will be asked to:
assess the accuracy of the allegations and determine exactly what the facts are;
ensure those facts are available to any authorities for any action that would take place as a result; and
provide the department with recommendations to strengthen relevant arrangements relating to the provision of services at the centre, and the conduct of service providers and staff at the Offshore Processing Centre in Nauru.
“The review will look closely at the actions of all entities contracted by the Australian Government to provide services at the centre,” Morrison said.
“Allegations of criminal conduct committed under Nauruan law will be referred to relevant Nauruan authorities to investigate and prosecute, as appropriate.”
Moss has been directed to deliver an interim report within the next seven weeks, with a final report due at the end of the year.