Nauru ‘Not Safe’ – Senate
2 September 2015 at 12:52 pm
Asylum seeker advocates have called for the Nauru detention centre to be shut down after a Senate inquiry found that it was not safe and that women and children had been subjected to sexual assault and rape.
A report by the Senate Committee investigating the conditions on Nauru said that principal contracted service provider, Transfield Services, had admitted that it had received 30 formal allegations of child abuse made against its staff, 15 allegations of sexual assault or rape, and four allegations relating to the exchange of sexual favours for contraband.
“Based on the evidence received by this inquiry, the committee has reached the conclusion that the RPC (Regional Processing Centre) in Nauru is not a safe environment for asylum seekers. This assessment is particularly acute in relation to women, children and other vulnerable persons,” the report said.
“The committee is particularly disturbed by the evidence it has received about abuse of children, traumatisation and mental illness among children, and the impact of the persistent, indefinite detention of children in the poor conditions which prevail at the RPC.
“These children are not only denied a reasonable approximation of childhood in the RPC, but often do not feel safe, and in fact often are not safe. Their extreme vulnerability is further exacerbated by their location in a country which lacks an adequate legal or policy framework for their protection.”
But despite the allegations of abuse, Transfield Services has been chosen by the Federal Government to continue to run detention centres at Nauru and Manus Island for the next five years.
CEO and Founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), Kon Karapanagiotidis, said the report was “further evidence of the cruelty and mental anguish our Government is inflicting on people locked up on Nauru”.
“The committee roundly condemned the management of the facility yet the Government has contracted Transfield to run its detention camps on Nauru and Manus for another five years,” Karapanagiotidis said.
“It shows that the Government is prepared to continue turning a blind eye to the abuse occurring in its own facility.
“People who bravely escaped war, violence and persecution in their own countries are being driven to the edge of sanity in these detention camps.
“The people locked up on Nauru – including 87 children – are simply not safe.
“The Government must stop dumping its responsibilities for people seeking asylum onto other countries, shut down the institutions of abuse on Nauru and Manus and bring people to Australia for their own safety.”
There were also calls for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse to be broadened to include abuse occurring in the Australian-run detention camp on Nauru.
Paul Power, CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia, said the Royal Commission is the suitable body to investigate.
“Innocent women and children have been raped and sexually abused and the Australian taxpayer is funding this horrendous abuse occurring. It must stop,” Power said.
“There is currently a Royal Commission ongoing into institutional child sexual abuse and it appears that on Nauru the Australian contracting companies are acting in the same manner as the institutions under question in this same Royal Commission. We urge the Royal Commission, under Commissioner McClelland, to review abuse in the immigration detention system as part of his inquiry.”
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told ABC Radio the recommendations in the Senate report had a “political flavour to them”.