After years of calling for an end to successive Australian governments’ cruel offshore processing regime, Amnesty International Australia welcomes reports today that the last people remaining on Nauru are set to leave by 30 June.
“We hope this means that people who have continued to suffer in horrible conditions on Nauru will be allowed to recover in the Australian community to receive the medical care they need and be supported to find permanent resettlement solutions so they can move on with their lives,” said Amnesty International Refugee Advisor Graham Thom.
“However, there are still 82 people in Papua New Guinea, who have been abandoned by the Australian government for whom we also need to see solutions.
“Amnesty wants to see everyone left on PNG also brought to Australia for medical care and supported to find pathways to permanent resettlement.
“It is unconscionable that Australia will continue to spend an estimated $485 million this year on the so-called regional processing centre in Nauru, despite expectations that no one will be there from 30 June, and about $350 million in the future to maintain a system the UN and Amnesty have repeatedly said is cruel treatment amounting to torture,” said Thom.
Amnesty International Australia continues to call on the Australian Government to: end its damaging policy of offshore processing; permanently close regional processing on Nauru; and bring everyone, including those abandoned in PNG, to Australia for medical care and to be supported in the community to find permanent resettlement solutions.
Australia has an obligation to recognise people’s right to seek refuge from persecution no matter their mode of arrival, and to treat people humanely through asylum processes. Instead, Australia has unfairly punished people who arrived after July 2013 when Australian Government policy relating to people who arrived by sea changed, with people forced into offshore detention told they would never settle in Australia.
The years some people have spent in offshore detention has caused physical and mental harm to such an extent that many have lost hope. More than a dozen people have lost their lives as a result of the suffering they endured in Australia’s offshore detention system.
The conditions on Nauru and in Papua New Guinea – refugees’ severe mental anguish, the intentional nature of the system, and the fact that the goal of offshore processing is to intimidate or coerce people to achieve a specific outcome – amounts to torture.