Over the last three months, Amnesty International researchers have been conducting research on the true nature of the Nauru detention centre, the well being of the people detained there and the functionality of the facilities. The research has seen interviews be conducted with people from Government agencies, refugees and locals on Nauru. The report was released a couple days ago and it is devastating.
The nature of the A.I. report is hugely damning to the Australian Government, which is living in complete denial of the allegations. The report was commissioned by a senior researcher with 15 years experience working in crisis zones as diverse as Chechnya and Nauru, the report details interviews she conducted with the refugees. Among her findings were:
- Australia is in violation of the Convention Against Torture
- The Government of Nauru is responsible for the violations going on on its territory
- Australia is responsible for the operation of the Manus and Nauru detention centres
- Substantial violations of childrens rights are occurring
- Near non-existent legal or social support framework for child victims on Nauru
- High risk of rape among female refugees detained
- Severe mental problems including suicidal inclinations, self harm and inability to control oneself
The report follows a damning expose done by the United Kingdom newspaper, The Guardian a couple of months ago. This involved talking to teachers and medical staff working on Nauru and documenting their experiences. It found that children as young as nine were openly talking about killing themselves. Violence and sexual violence against refugees was rampant. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton denied the allegations laid by The Guardian.
This is not the first time I have raised concerns about the Australian detention centres. Manus Island is closing according to Mr Dutton. The other detention centres however, Nauru included, continue to operate with prisoners living in inhumane conditions. In the case of Nauru these are grotesquely substandard facilities and matching inadequate staff to operate them.
Contrary to the post World War 2 Australia whose acceptance of large numbers of post-war refugees from all parts of Europe, earned it much respect, the Australia of now considers refugees to be some type of criminal and does everything it can to stop one reaching its shores. And where one dares to try, much less get there, it punishes them by sending them to barely functional detention centres with lax security, inhumane conditions where criminal offending is rife. Quite how Australia expects to gain international respect when it does this is beyond me.
Amnesty International has called on New Zealand to speak out against the conduct of the Australian Government and the worsening situation on Nauru. So far the New Zealand Parliament seems reluctant to raise a finger in protest at Australia’s inhumane treatment of Nauru refugees. The National Party and A.C.T. are unlikely to criticize the Government of Malcolm Turnbull and view it as interfering in another nations domestic issues. Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First are all quiet.
Australia and Nauru are the two countries with the most to lose here. However, New Zealand should not be proud of its actions when it fails to stand up as the “N.Z.” in “A.N.Z.A.C.” and say “NO. Stop this.” By failing to do so we are in effect endorsing the abuses, the violations of international law and the degradation of our own reputation.