Australia denies refugee abuse in Nauru island

The Australian government denies neglecting asylum seekers and refugees abuse claims after a report shows conditions in centres are prison-like.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

This file photo taken on April 30, 2016 shows a man carrying a placard against Australia's immigration policy

The Australian government has denied claims of deliberately ignoring complaints of abuse put forward by asylum-seekers staying at a camp in Nauru island. 

report released August 2 by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said refugees in Nauru “suffer severe abuse, inhumane treatment, and neglect.”

According to Australia’s Immigration Department, Amnesty International did not consult with the government before releasing the report.

"There was no consultation with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection from Amnesty International in preparation of this report," the statement said.

"We strongly refute many of the allegations in the report and would encourage Amnesty International to contact the Department before airing allegations of this kind."

Inside of one of the tents housing asylum seekers in Nauru island (Amnesty International)

Under Canberra’s migration policy, asylum seekers trying to reach Australia by boat are taken to either Nauru island or Papua New Guinea (PNG).

“The Australian government’s failure to address serious abuses appears to be a deliberate policy to deter further asylum seekers from arriving in the country by boat,” the report read.

The two organisations accused health workers of neglect with “denial of medical care” as well as assaults allegedly known by the Nauruan police going unpunished.

The report came after researchers from Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch got permission to stay in Nauru for 12 days even though entrance for most journalists or researchers is generally refused.

Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International, Anna Neistat and Senior Counsel on Children’s Rights at Human Rights Watch, Michael Bochenek, interviewed 84 refugees and asylum seekers from several countries as well as service providers.

The shocking findings show that asylum seekers and refugees in the Regional Processing Centre (RPC) of Nauru face difficulties that drive them to the point of depression and anxiety while children are frequently harassed or bullied by local students, the report says.

"People here don't have a real life. We are just surviving. We are dead souls in living bodies. We are just husks. We don't have any hope or motivation," one woman said.

Both organisations have called on the Australian government to close the camp and resettle people in Australia.

Broadspectrum, the private company that runs the facility, and International Health and Medical Services, the main medical service provider of the camp, also denied the allegations.

TRTWorld and agencies