Australian guard: Nauru detention center tortures migrants

Unnamed Australian security worker speaks in Australian parliamentary inquiry concerning Nauru detention center, where workers have allegedly tortured asylum seekers with waterboarding and 'zipping'

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

As part of a parliamentary investigation into allegations of torture at a detention center in Nauru an Australian security guard spoke in the Australian parliament about how employees of the center allegedly tortured asylum seekers by waterboarding and "zipping" them.

The Republic of Nauru is a central Pacific island with an population of nearly 9,000. The Australian government has given aid to Nauru in exchange for hosting a detention center for asylum seekers attempting to travel to Australia by boat.

Waterboarding involves a victim being tied with their face, especially the nose and mouth, covered with a cloth while water is poured on their face in order to make them breathless and choke. "Zipping," on the other hand, involves tying a person to a metal frame bed and crushing them on the floor.

The guard, who testified before parliament as an unnamed witness, said that Wilson Security, responsible for guarding the Nauru detention center, allows the torture of asylum seekers.

Wilson Security has rejected the allegations, calling the witness's account nothing but “inflammatory, incorrect and misleading."

The company has also said that there is no evidence of any torture, "There is not, and has never been, any suggestion that this has ever occurred - apart from this unparticularised and generalised claim."

Wilson Security wrote in its submission to the inquiry: "We are extremely concerned at the seriousness of the allegations in the submission. Of equal concern is the absence of evidence that supports the allegations - which is of particular concern in light of how serious they are. You will see in our response that we are able to reject many of the claims convincingly, with supporting documented facts."

The company's personnel also said that they did not receive any official complaints from the residents of the detention center about the alleged torture, even though all the residents have access to telephones and the Internet.

Peter Dutton, a spokesman for Australia's immigration minister, also spoke about a lack of official complaints to government institutions by saying, “The submission to the Senate Committee makes numerous, unsubstantiated assertions. The Government notes that both service providers to the Nauru Regional Processing Centre – reputable major companies - have strongly rejected the claims made in the submission."

The Australian guard said that workers and employers destroyed and shredded documents, accusations denied by the security company.

The unnamed guard said that Wilson Security employed former soldiers who served in Middle Eastern countries and did not think well of the people of these countries nor receive training to deal with detainees, stating, "Many Wilson Security staff fought against the asylum seekers they are now guarding... Asylum seekers were simply cast as criminals from the start."

Australian doctor reports child abuse at Nauru detention center

Following the allegations by the unnamed guard, Doctor David Isaacs - who also worked in the detention center - revealed what he experienced while serving there.

Mentioning the abuse of a six-year-old girl, Isaac told ABC, "I saw a six-year-old girl who tried to hang herself with a fence tie and had marks around her neck. I've never seen a child self-harm of that age before. It's child abuse. Putting children in detention is child abuse. So, our Government is abusing children in our name. "

Isaac claimed the treatment of the center's detainees was cruel, saying, “I didn't expect to be so traumatised by these people's trauma. These are people, ordinary people and we're treating them with, um - sorry, we're treating them with incredible cruelty."

Australian refugee law dictates that asylum seekers should usually be relocated to Nauru, Papua New Guinea or Cambodia or even be sent back to their countries of origin. In 2012, Amnesty International visited Nauru and reported that the physical conditions there are harsh and repressive and that unlawful detention and inhumane conditions are creating a volatile situation among the detainees.

TRTWorld and agencies