Police raid Save the Children offices in Nauru again

Save the Children offices in Nauru raided for second time by police

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

The first police raid, on October 10, on Save the Children offices came as thousands rallied in Australia over the weekend calling for detention camps in Nauru or Papua New Guinea to be closed

Nauru police on Thursday carried out a second raid on the offices of Save the Children staff in an attempt to find information leaked from the detention centre on the Pacific island nation, seizing computers, phones and other internet-connected devices.

The Nauru detention center has been under scrutiny following reports of poor conditions and child abuse. It was the second raid by police in recent days of the aid group's offices.

Nauru police raided a Save the Children office on Oct. 10, confiscating laptops and phones used by detention staff to reveal sources.

Save the Children Spokeswoman Lily Partland confirmed that a second raid was carried out by Nauru Police Force on the organisation’s office.

"A second search warrant was executed by the Nauru Police Force this morning on a Save the Children office in Nauru, involving the seizure of some computers," she said in a statement.

Partland said the raid was aimed at locating the confidential source of a recent report on the center published by Guardian Australia.

The report included the published part of a leaked email from the detention centre’s operation manager, who advised that local media would be allowed to photograph and film inside the camps.

Partland said a full internal audit had been conducted by the aid group but found "no evidence the leaked email, which is understood to be the target of the warrants, came from our staff."

"We continue to fully co-operate with Nauru police on this matter, and our priority remains working to mitigate the harmful impacts of offshore immigration detention, to the extent that the circumstances allow," Partland said.

Following the allegations of the rape of the refugees at the camp, the Nauru government banned media access to the country in early October. It was already impossible for journalists to visit the Nauru detention centre without paying a non-refundable AUD 8,000 ($5,760) visa application fee which only few media outlets are prepared to pay.

The second raid came as Save the Children staff were preparing to leave Nauru. Their contract for health provision services expires at the end of this month.

Over a year ago, Save the Children staff were dismissed from Nauru, following allegations that they were allowing protests and sending confidential information off the island. Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison claimed that the aid group encouraged asylum seekers to harm themselves and fabricated abuse stories. The claims had not been proven and the aid group is yet to receive an explanation for the incident.

Morrison had said at the time of the incident that Save the Children workers were “employed to do a job, not to be political activists."

The recent raids are likely to add pressure on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to address concerns about child abuse and sexual assault following reports and criticism by the United Nations and human rights groups.

Turnball said last month he was worried about the conditions at the Nauru detention center.

Asylum seekers are an important political issue in Australia and governments are trying to stop them from using rickety boats to reach the mainland by distributing the intercepted refugees to camps on Nauru and Manus island in Papua New Guinea.

Australia’s highest court is considering whether the policy of transferring asylum seekers to Nauru for long-term detention is in breach of the country's constitution.

TRTWorld and agencies