Refugee Advocate Says Leaked Nauru Files ‘Appalling’
Wednesday, 10th August 2016 at 10:37 am
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) says leaked incident reports from Australia’s detention camp for asylum seekers on Nauru has again laid bare the devastating trauma and abuse inflicted on children held by Australia in offshore detention.
More than 2,000 leaked incident reports from Australia’s detention camp for asylum seekers on Nauru – totalling more than 8,000 pages – were published by the Guardian on Wednesday.
The Nauru files set out reports of the assaults, sexual abuse, self-harm attempts, child abuse and living conditions experienced by asylum seekers held by the Australian Government, painting a picture of routine dysfunction and cruelty.
ASRC CEO Kon Karapanagiotidis told Pro Bono Australia News he was shocked and appalled but “sadly not surprised” by the details in the files.
“This has to be the final straw. Australians should be shocked and appalled. It is just extraordinary. This is child abuse happening in a government run institution,” Karapanagiotidis said.
“We know about it and our government is letting it happen. This is not the first time. We have had the Moss Report that has said very similar things before.We know from the Gillian Triggs [Human Rights Commissioner] report that child abuse is a major issue in our detention centres. How many more scandals, how many more child abuse reports do we need to have before someone does something.”
The Guardian said its analysis of the files revealed that children were vastly over-represented in the reports. More than half of the 2,116 reports – a total of 1,086 incidents, or 51.3 per cent – involve children, although children made up only about 18 per cent of those in detention on Nauru during the time covered by the reports from May 2013 to October 2015.
In the files there are seven reports of sexual assault of children, 59 reports of physical assault on children, 30 of self-harm involving children and 159 of threatened self-harm involving children.
Karapanagiotidis said widespread systemic child abuse on Nauru has been happening for years under the Australian Government’s nose.
“And they tolerate it and through their inaction they sanction it.
“We have a royal commission into child abuse happening right now into the churches and there’s Malcolm Turnbull ushering in the next generation of child abuse survivors through the failure of government to act when it knew and the abuse that we are seeing there is not an aberration.
“It’s not an accident. You have to understand that government policy that created an environment where these people are seen as less than human, where the culture is to break these people so they go home and it is one where these people are neither not welcome with no rights so when you create a culture of impunity and you create a culture of abuse and you create a culture that sends a message to the private operators running the place under the oversight of the federal government this is what you get.”
Karapanagiotidis has begun a social media campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #bringthemhere.
— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) August 9, 2016
“We need to keep this at the top of the conversation. We need them brought here.
He said a public meeting of key refugee organisations in Melbourne on Wednesday is calling on the federal government to “bring them here”.
“The government has a responsibility to not allow people to be physically and sexually abuse in their care.”
Children’s welfare charity, UNICEF Australia has called on the Turnbull government to provide a permanent resettlement solution for asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru in the wake of the leaked files.
The charity said the files have been published only weeks after UNICEF released a joint report on the child protection system in Nauru with the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs.
“There is undeniable, cumulative evidence that suggests that asylum seeker and refugee children are not safe under existing arrangements on Nauru. The Australian Government must take immediate action for children and their families to prevent further harm,” UNICEF’s director of policy and advocacy Nicole Breeze said.
“The Nauruan Government has taken significant steps to improve their domestic child protection system, including the passing of the Child Protection and Welfare Act, and the joint study stresses further work will be required to build a comprehensive child protection system.
“Understanding that the Australian Government may come under scrutiny by world leaders at the upcoming United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York, UNICEF Australia encourages the prime minister to commit to a legitimate resettlement plan for asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru and Manus Island.
“Australia has unfairly shifted its responsibilities for asylum seekers and refugees to our Pacific neighbours for far too long.”