Nauru detention centre: Labor, Greens demand investigation into claims of sexual abuse against women and children

September 30, 2014

PHOTO: Asylum seekers on Nauru demonstrate against the Australian Government's immigration policies.(Refugee Rights Action Network: Victoria Martin-Iverson)

Labor and the Greens are demanding an investigation into claims of sexual abuse against women and children inside the Nauru detention centre.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said women inside the centre were regularly required to strip and exchange sexual favours with guards so they could have access to the showers.

She said there were also allegations children had been forced to have sex in front of guards at the centre.

“The culture inside the Nauru detention camp is toxic,” she said.

“It’s dangerous for children and coupled with all of that, we’ve seen over the last few days – young people and children – now not only witnessing self-harm and suicide attempts, but participating in that themselves.”

Senator Hanson-Young said asylum seekers had raised the allegations with case workers inside the centre, while she had raised the issues directly with Immigration Minister Scott Morrison last weekand was waiting for a response.

Labor frontbencher and former immigration minister Chris Bowen said the Government needed to take action.

“Any report like that is concerning,” he said.

“And the appropriate thing when you have … allegations like that is a proper and thorough investigation and full transparency from the government.”

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Showers in the detention camp are regulated because of the island’s uncertain water supply.

The Government said the allegations had been referred to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Cambodia relocation to go ahead despite protests

Refugees living on Nauru have vowed to continue to protest against the Australian Government’s $40 million resettlement deal with Cambodia.

Yesterday a group of refugees who have already been resettled on Nauru held a protest march, describing the Cambodia deal as cruel and unfair.

In pictures provided to the ABC demonstrators could be seen holding a sign which read “Only our corpse [sic] might go to Cambodia.”

A young girl held another sign which said “Suicide is sweeter than Australia’s dirty policy.”

A protest was also held on Friday by former detainees of the offshore processing centre on the island.

The group from the Monday protest presented a letter to the Australian High Commission on Nauru, urging Australia to reconsider the Cambodian deal, which was signed by Mr Morrison in Phnom Penh at the end of last week.

“Australian Government has driven this [sic] people to the point that they feel like they have reached the end,” the letter signed by ‘Nauru refugees’ said.

It continued, “They feel like they have nothing to lose. They want the Australian governments to know that they can send us to Cambodia but only our dead bodies.”

Under the resettlement deal, people who were recognised refugees and agreed to be settled in Cambodia would be given Khmer language training on Nauru before being relocated to the South East Asian country.

Iranian man Rahman, who was involved in the protest and only wanted his first name published, said people were scared at the prospect of being settled in Cambodia.

“People here are so angry and upset at the deal signed with Cambodia, we don’t want to go to Cambodia, he said.

“I think Cambodia is not a safe place, it’s a very poor country. I don’t understand their language, there is lots of crime in Cambodia. I don’t feel safe in Cambodia, I have no future in Cambodia.”

Last week Mr Morrison told the ABC that four or five refugees would be voluntarily settled in Cambodia in the program’s early stages, with more to follow at a later date.

The deal was criticised by human rights groups, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres describing the move as a “worrying departure from international norms.”

On Saturday the government confirmed that a 15 year-old girl held on Nauru had been medically evacuated to Australia.

Refugee advocates said the girl attempted suicide after learning she could be settled in Cambodia.

There are also unconfirmed reports of unrest inside the detention centre on Nauru last night. A number of sources have told the ABC that the security level in the centre is now at its maximum, and more security staff are being brought onto the island.

A video has also emerged which appears to show a number of asylum seekers who have sewn their lips together in protest at the Cambodia resettlement deal. It is unclear where the video was filmed, but former workers on the island told the ABC that they recognised some of the men in the short video.

A spokesperson for Mr Morrison said in a statement the minister had been informed of the protests.

“The minister has been advised that the department is aware that some transferees are engaging in peaceful protest activity in Nauru, and is working with its service providers to ensure the continued safety and good order of the facility.”

The Cambodian government has said that any refugees sent there by Australia would stay in a temporary camp in Phnom Penh for a year, but would not be allowed to settle in the capital.

It said they would eventually live in the regions, but did not stipulated where.

A Cambodian government delegation is due to travel to Nauru soon to survey the living conditions there and talk to refugees.




Filed under PNG/Pacific Solution, Torturing and Health Issues

3 responses to “Nauru detention centre: Labor, Greens demand investigation into claims of sexual abuse against women and children

  1. endimmigrationdetention

    somehow i have a feeling those guards won’t go to jail for what they’d done, and whether or not there will be an invistigation remains to be seen.
    i can see why people, especially children, would turn suicidal in those places.
    i’ve read a lot about sexual abuse in those detention centers, and it’s not surprising, because what kind of person will be willing to imprison innocent people, some of them children, knowing they’re locked up for no reason but the government’s convinience. is it a wonder they’re all a bunch of rapists and child molesters?

    • Hermes

      You really should fully inform yourself before jumping to conclusions or making accusations based solely on what you read on this website!

      You may even be interested in the facts, as outlined below:-

      Truth overboard: Claims of asylum seeker abuse on Nauru were ‘fabricated’
      The Daily Telegraph
      October 03, 2014 10:41AM

      A FORMER integrity commissioner has been asked to investigate allegations a service provider hired to care for asylum seeker children on Nauru fabricated stories of abuse.

      Scott Morrison this morning announced Philip Moss would conduct an independent inquiry into the claims against Save the Children workers at the centre.

      “Mr Moss will be asked to assess the accuracy of the allegations and determine exactly what the facts are in all of these cases,” he told reporters in Canberra.

      An intelligence report provided to the federal government has revealed that staff from the Save The Children organisation based at Nauru had also been involved in “encouraging and coaching” self-harm to “achieve evacuations to Australia”.

      The Minister said 10 employees of one of the country’s largest government-funded aid organisations had been removed from Nauru by the Department of Immigration, but he stressed that the action wasn’t in connection to claims of sexual misconduct, abuse or inappropriate behaviour.

      “I’m drawing no conclusions about any of these matters but it is very important that we get these matters resolved,” he said.

      “The matters that have been brought to my attention are concerning, certainly the allegations of sexual misconduct are abhorrent and I would be horrified to think that things of that nature have taken place.”

      Mr Morrison said if people want to be “political activists … they don’t get to do it on the taxpayer’s dollar and working in a sensitive place like Nauru”.

      So far no arrests have been made, but Mr Moss will share his findings with Nauruan authorities, the Minister said.

      Mr Moss has been asked to deliver an interim report in the next seven weeks, with a final report due by the end of the year.

      The Federal Police have also been called in to investigate the alleged misuse by staff of Save The Children of privileged information under section 70 of the Crimes Act.

      The alleged fabrications include manufactured cases of sexual abuse against children by security staff.

      The intelligence report follows claims by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young that children had been sexually abused by guards at the centre.

      But it appears to refute those claims, alleging some Save The Children staff had helped “manufacture” situations for political purposes.

      Read more here:

  2. Pingback: Torture and death in immigration detention | My Blog

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