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Australia’s indifference to protect asylum seekers laid bare

    March 20, 2015

    Amnesty International Australia Release

    Amnesty International is extremely concerned by the dangerous lack of accountability and transparency, as well as continued abuse allegations, at the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru.

    The Australian government's failure to protect asylum seekers is laid bare in the Department of Immigration’s Moss Review, released today.

    Amnesty International visited the facility in 2012, but since then has written three times to the Nauruan Government requesting access. In response to the first letter, the organization was told the timing was not appropriate, while no response was received to the two later letters.

    “The extent of reported sexual abuse and inappropriate behaviour by staff against asylum seekers is shocking and suggests that existing protections are ineffective or virtually non-existent.”

    In November 2014, Amnesty International wrote to the Nauru Minister for Justice, David Adeang MP, and the Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. The letter detailed specific abuse allegations and asked for details of procedures to protect children and adults from physical or sexual abuse and provide access to justice for survivors of such abuse.

    “Our last letter remains unanswered by both governments. This inaction is further detailed in the Moss Review, which outlines that local Nauru Police have limited capacity to investigate sexual assault.

    “These findings bolster the argument against offshore detention and prove once more that these people must be taken to the Australian mainland as a matter of urgency.

    “The Moss Review also details that it is not clear what action Police have taken to investigate serious allegations of abuse reported to them by service providers.

    “This inquiry reports that many asylum seekers said they hadn’t reported abuse because they lost confidence anything would be done. Sadly, their concerns are supported by the evidence in the report.

    “Nauru Police must be resourced to deal with survivors of sexual abuse including children. This includes forensic services to investigate sexual assault; resources they are currently lacking.

    “The Review also recommended the Australian Department of Immigration and the Nauruan Government must take into account the personal safety and privacy of asylum seekers when making decisions. The report suggests that this has not been the case since the detention centre was reopened in 2012.

    “International laws requires that the best interests of the child come first and this clearly isn’t the case in the Australian government’s decision to send children to Nauru. Immigration detention is never in the best interests of the child.

    “The damage is done. Since 2012, Australia's detention centre on Nauru has failed to protect asylum seekers, including children. This government can ensure this does not happen again, by closing it for good,” Mr McGregor added.

    For more information  please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 33