Time for NZ tell Aussies to “close your open air prison on Nauru”


“It’s time to revive the Tampa spirit and rescue the refugees our Australian neighbours have sent off to rot in hellish prison camps on remote islands like Nauru and Manus,” says columnist Brian Rudman.

Amnesty International is calling on New Zealand to take a lead in exerting international pressure on Australia over its detention centre on Nauru.

Amnesty has condemned Australia’s offshore detention regime on Nauru as an “open-air prison” and akin to “torture”.

New Zealand has offered to take 150 of the asylum seekers, but Australia says it must deal directly with Nauru, and the offer is stalled.

Amnesty’s senior crisis director Anna Neistat said New Zealand had a crucial role as one of Australia’s key partners.

“International pressure should start from the region where New Zealand is undoubtedly the most serious player who could challenge Australia’s policy and, to a certain extent, show to Australia that things can be done differently.”

Amnesty says refugees and and asylum seekers are attacked with impunity, healthcare is inadequate or non-existent, and suicide attempts, including among children, are common.

Neistat, who interviewed dozens of the 410 detainees in July, says asylum seekers are undergoing extreme suffering which amounts to torture.

On her visit to Nauru  she found:

  • A seven-month pregnant Iranian refugee attempted to hang herself,
  • Suicide attempts by children were commonplace, including by a 13-year-old boy who had attempted to kill himself multiple times – with a knife, with petrol and by drowning himself in the ocean –
  • A 15-year-old girl who had tried to kill herself twice, saying “I’m tired of my life”.
  • A refugee family who moved into the Nauruan community were repeatedly attacked in their home and their property destroyed.
  • Guards in the processing centre have assaulted, abused and threatened refugee children.
  • A young girl who was prescribed adult antidepressive medication that has a “black box warning” against its use by children, because it causes suicidal thinking.
  • Staff on the island reporting that people are discharged from hospital even when they are “still sick, sometimes half-conscious


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News category: New Zealand.

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