Asylum seekers in Nauru subject to severe abuse

About 1,200 men, women, and children who sought refuge in Australia and were forcibly transferred to Nauru have suffered severe abuse, inhumane treatment, and neglect, according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International

Most of them have been held there for three years. They routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government.

And, as well they suffer frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans.

They endure unnecessary delays and at times denial of medical care, even for life-threatening conditions. Many have dire mental health problems and suffer overwhelming despair—self-harm and suicide attempts are frequent. All face prolonged uncertainty about their future.

Refugees and asylum seekers interviewed said they have developed severe anxiety, inability to sleep, mood swings, prolonged depression, and short-term memory loss on the island.

Children have begun to wet their beds, suffered from nightmares, and engaged in disruptive and other troubling behaviour.

“Australia’s policy of exiling asylum seekers who arrive by boat is cruel in the extreme,” said Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International, who conducted the investigation on the island for the organization.

“Few other countries go to such lengths to deliberately inflict suffering on people seeking safety and freedom.”

Michael Bochenek, Senior Counsel on Children’s Rights at Human Rights Watch, conducted the investigation on the island for this organisation.

“Driving adult and even child refugees to the breaking point with sustained abuse appears to be one of Australia’s aims on Nauru,” he said

Amnesty International says Australian authorities are well aware of the abuses on Nauru.

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a Senate Select Committee, and a government-appointed independent expert have each highlighted many of these practices, and called on the government to change them.

The Australian government’s persistent failure to address abuses committed under its authority on Nauru strongly suggests that they are adopted or condoned as a matter of policy.


Additional reading

News category: Asia Pacific.

Tags: , , , ,