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Leaks show child abuse scale in Australian detention camp

10 August 2016 9:20

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A shocking report compiled based on 2,000 leaked documents reveals extreme cases of sexual abuse and misconduct against refugee children and women at an Australian detention facility.

Britain’s the Guardian newspaper on Wednesday published the eight-thousand page report that includes more than 2,000 incidents from the remote Pacific island of Nauru between May 2013 and October 2015.

It highlights serious concerns about the ongoing risks to children and adults held on the island.

More than half of the incidents involve children despite the fact that they made up only 18 percent of those in detention on Nauru during the time covered by the report.

In the files, there are seven reports of sexual assault against children, 59 reports of assault on children, 30 of self-harm involving children and 159 of threatened self-harm involving children, the Guardian said.

‘Public pressure can change detention policy’

Gillian Triggs, the Australian human rights commissioner, reacted to the Nauru files, saying public attention is needed in order for the government to change its detention policy.

“We really need the public’s attention to ensure that our politicians change the policy. This is unsustainable, and of course extremely expensive to the Australian taxpayer,” Triggs told ABC radio.

She said: “We rely very heavily on the media to report these facts and ensure the public is accurately informed, and I think that’s the case here.”

‘Inhumane and irresponsible’

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also criticized Canberra, saying it is deliberately making refugees suffer in offshore facilities to curb new arrivals.

HRW Australian Director Elaine Pearson slammed as “inhumane and irresponsible” Canberra’s detention policy, saying the files painted a “disturbing picture” of the abuse on Nauru.

“This policy is inhumane and irresponsible, and it means refugees and asylum seekers remain vulnerable to further abuse and mistreatment,” she said.

The rights group demanded Australia immediately remove refugees from Nauru.


Barbed wire fences surround the Don Dale Youth Detention Center located near Darwin in the Northern Territory, Australia, July 27, 2016. © Reuters

 

The revelations came just weeks after the brutal treatment of young people in detention in Australia’s Northern Territory was exposed, leading to a wide-ranging public inquiry.

Canberra has been under pressure from international rights groups and UN agencies for its asylum policies that send boat refugees to remote processing centers on Manus Island and Nauru.

A joint report by the Amnesty International and HRW on Tuesday said Australia is following the intentional inhumane policy of mistreating asylum seekers held on the South Pacific island of Nauru in a bid “to deter further asylum-seekers from arriving in the country by boat.”

According to the report, nearly 1,200 men, women, children, who sought refuge in Australia but were forcibly transferred to the remote island nation of Nauru suffered “severe abuse, inhumane treatment, and neglect”.

A medical report by the Australian Human Rights Commission has further said that 95 percent of children held in detention centers showed risks of post-traumatic stress disorder.

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