Amnesty International is hopeful that a recent announcement by Nauru’s government will begin to reduce the stress and abuse imposed on asylum seekers detained at the Australian-run detention centre since the facility reopened in 2012. The Nauruan government has stated it is returning some freedom of movement to the people detained on the island, in a small step in the right direction.
Alongside this announcement, the Nauruan government has claimed it will hand down around 600 refugee status decisions in one week. In order to ensure that the authorities do not mistakenly return refugees to danger, Australia and Nauru must show that these decisions follow a fair refugee status determination process that is transparent and meets international legal standards.
The future of the refugees temporarily relocated to Nauru remains in doubt. Granted only a five year protection visa by the Nauruan authorities and with no assistance provided in finding a safe home in another country, refugees on Nauru have no idea what their future holds. This deliberate uncertainty has been shown to have significant negative effects on people’s health and wellbeing. Amnesty International calls on the governments of Nauru and Australia to assist the refugees relocated to Nauru and Papua New Guinea in finding a safe new home.
Until then, the safety of refugees and asylum seekers in the community on Nauru is a major concern that remains unaddressed by Nauru’s government, especially given recent allegations of rape, sexual harassment and physical abuse and the lack of apparent response by the Nauru authorities to these allegations.
Only last week, a video was aired showing pleas for help from a refugee on Nauru, after she was allegedly raped by local men.
This video followed months of testimony by former staff and increasing media reports about human rights abuses taking place on Nauru and in the Australian-run detention centre. After repeatedly being denied access to asylum seekers on Nauru, Amnesty International is hopeful that the move to an open facility on Nauru will end the secrecy surrounding the detention centre and allow greater access for human rights observers to investigate the consistent reports of abuse.
Amnesty International continues to call for the centre on Nauru to be permanently closed and all asylum seekers relocated to Australia.
*Please attribute these lines to Amnesty International Australia’s Refugee Campaign Coordinator, Graeme McGregor