Dumping migrant children in Nauru called state-sanctioned abuse

Australia has sent 157 Tamil asylum seekers, including 50 children, to Nauru a week after religious leaders slammed policy in this area as child abuse.

The group were held at sea for a month after their boat, which set sail from Pondicherry in India, was intercepted in June.

They were moved to Australia’s mainland, to the remote Curtin Detention Centre, to meet Indian officials, but refused to speak with them.

India had promised to take back its nationals.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the group would either be resettled in Nauru or deported to Sri Lanka, where they are thought to come from.

Last month, the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce blasted the nation’s border security policy over its treatment of minors.

The policy was called “state-sanctioned child abuse” in a report by the religious leaders.

The task force called for a royal commission into the plight of child migrants who suffer “terrible” abuse before being “dumped” offshore.

It also called on Mr Morrison to renounce his legal position of guardian of all unaccompanied minors.

“The minister forsakes his guardianship duties when he sends unaccompanied children to the detention camp in Nauru,” the report said.

Australia changed its policy on unauthorised boats in December to crack down on people-smuggling.

Under the new policy, all asylum-seekers arriving by boat are sent to Nauru or Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement, even if they are found to be refugees.

The Australian government says its aim is to save lives by preventing people getting on dangerous boats.

The most recent arrivals are the first to test the new policy.

In 2012, legislation was passed to allow offshore processing of asylum seekers in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

The legislation stripped away legal safeguards for asylum seekers subject to offshore processing.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott defended the latest transfer, saying he was confident it was safe to send people to Nauru.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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