Nauru police have raided a Save the Children office on Saturday confiscating laptops and phones by detention staff to reveal journalist sources in the centre.
“Save the Children staff have a history of behaving with great integrity, compassion and professionalism in their work on Nauru supporting vulnerable children and families and we fully expect this to apply to all aspects of our service delivery, including obligations to maintain confidentiality,” a Save the Children spokesperson said.
“We have no reason to believe that our staff have acted inappropriately, but we are of course assisting the Nauru police force with its inquiries. As always, our priority remains working to mitigate the harmful impacts of offshore immigration detention, to the extent that the circumstances allow.”
The cause of the raid is still not clear, but it raises concerns about freedom of speech in the detention centre and the right to report Nauru’s conditions that asylum seekers are given.
While the raid investigation continues, Nauru’s safety conditions raise concerns.
Asylum seekers are generally refused asylum in Australia and they are sent to Nauru or Manus island in New Guinea, until their applications are reviewed.
However, as The Guardian reports, the conditions in the camps are harsh and have caused criticism by human right groups.
According to the latest reports, the centres are allegedly harsh and inappropriate especially for women and children.
A 23-year old woman claims she had been raped in Nauru island while she was outside the camp. However, she was denied access to Australia for medical treatment and assistance, even though she was pregnant.
The Somali woman expressed her will not to carry out her pregnancy, something that Nauru refuses to do.
After denying the woman’s transfer, the government had issued a visa to move the woman.
“It’s a welcome move that she has been allowed to come, but it shouldn’t have taken this level of intense advocacy to get that to happen,” Melbourne's executive director of the Human Rights Law Center Hugh de Kretser said.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull commented on the incident on an ABC Radio interview stating that the camps will become safer for women and children.
On the contrary, the PM said that sending the boats back from Australia and keeping people on the islands are saving refugee’s lives as fewer drowning incidents take place at sea.
Thus, Ian Rintoul, a spokesman for the Refugee Action Coalition in Sydney said that the rape case investigation is not proceeding as the evidence supporting the case were not adequate.
“The woman is not O.K.,” Rintoul said. “It is an extremely disgraceful situation, made worse by the fact the Australian government was so unwilling to transfer someone who so desperately needed medical help, not just for the pregnancy but after being raped.”
The detention situation also fired reactions from the Royal Children’s Hospital doctors who said that at least children should be released as the environment is not healthy for them.
“Detention centres are not safe for children,” the doctors said posting on the hospital website’s blog. “Children are exposed to the distress, violence and mental health problems of adults, and parents cannot protect their children from these circumstances,” they added.
The Human Rights Law Centre layers support over how inappropriate the islands are for women as well.
“There is clear pattern of violence against refugee women on Nauru,” said Daniel Webb, a lawyer from the Human Rights Law Centre. “Many of these attacks are happening outside the centre in the Nauruan community. These women came to Australia seeking safety but continue to be left exposed to real danger.”