Yet Another Report Has Highlighted The Abuse Asylum Seekers Face On Nauru

It's the fifth report documenting abuse of asylum seekers in just two years.

nauru asylum seeker

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Just in case you still had any doubts about the inhumane nature of our refugee policies, a new report released by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch found that the Australian government has “designed a system of deliberate abuse” on Nauru to deter asylum seekers from seeking refuge in Australia. The joint report is based on evidence gathered by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch investigators who travelled to Nauru undercover.

According to the report, the 1,200 men, women and children who sought refuge in Australia and were transferred to Nauru due to our government’s policy of mandatory, offshore detention and resettlement, are regularly subject to “severe abuse, inhumane treatment, and neglect”. Refugees sent to Nauru were forced to live in cramped tents where temperatures reached 50 degrees. While most refugees have now been transferred into prefabricated housing, about one-third remain in tents, Amnesty said.

The investigators also found evidence of sustained physical abuse directed at refugees by local Naruans. In one incident detailed in the report, “A refugee from Bangladesh suffered serious head trauma in May when a Nauruan man threw a large rock at him, kicked the refugee off his motorbike, and beat him after he fell. In another incident, a Somali woman reported that several Nauruan men attacked her husband with a machete.

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch said that “Every refugee and asylum seeker interviewed reported intimidation, harassment, or violence directed at them or family members by Nauruans acting alone or in groups. They said the assailants cursed and spat on them, threw bottles and stones, swerved vehicles in their direction as they walked or rode on motorbikes, or broke their windows or destroyed other property.”

It’s not the first time independent experts have documented the abuse experienced by refugees as a result of Australian government policies. In March last year a Senate committee heard evidence detailing the harmful conditions asylum seekers experience while living in offshore immigration detention.  In the same month a government appointed reviewer found that refugees on Nauru have been the victims of rape and sexual assault.

In February of this year the Australian Human Rights Commission documented the trauma experienced by children in detention. In May the United Nations called for all refugees to be transferred out of Nauru and Manus Island due to  the’harmful and inhumane conditions’ experienced by detainees.

In response to the latest evidence Amnesty and Human Rights Watch are calling on the government to shut down the offshore detention facility on Nauru, assess the claims of all asylum seekers in Australia and settle everyone found to be a genuine refugee in the country, instead of trying to resettle them offshore. Given the re-election of the Turnbull Coalition government, and their support of these policies (as well as the Labor Party’s), it seems unlikely things will change — despite the mounting evidence of how harmful they are.