Nauru's former President Sprent Dabwido condemns 'torture' of refugees

In an interview with The Project that aired last night, 17 April, former President of Nauru Sprent Dabwido condemned PNG’s agreement to hold Australian refugees on Nauru as ‘a deal with the devil’ and ‘torture’ for refugees.

In response, Dr Graham Thom, Refugee Adviser at Amnesty International Australia said:

“Amnesty International has long held that the conditions on Nauru amount to torture, designed to inflict suffering for a specific purpose, to stop some of the world’s most vulnerable people from trying to find safety in Australia.

“This commentary from the very person that originally approved the deal is truly condemning and supports the findings of our ‘Island of Despair’ report which documented deteriorating mental health, discrimination and violent attacks, sexual violence, inadequate medical care and harassment.

“The truth about the situation in Nauru is again being exposed, this time by those closest to implementing the policy itself. It never was and never will be an appropriate place for vulnerable people who come to Australia seeking safety from persecution. This torture has to end. Australia must immediately bring the refugees and people seeking asylum on Manus and Nauru to safety in Australia.”


The report: ‘Island of Despair’: Australia’s “processing” of refugees on Nauru was released in October 2016. Based on months of research, including interviews with more than 100 people in Nauru and Australia, Amnesty International’s report revealed the full scale of Australia’s system of deliberate cruelty.

While there have been continued denials from the Government about the extent of the issues in Manus and Nauru, since the launch of our report in 2016, there have been a number of deaths, reportedly suicides, on both Manus and Nauru, as well as the death of Faysal Ahmed from medical complications. All the families with children have now been medically evacuated off Nauru, with many of the children reportedly suffering both acute physical and psychological illnesses.

As of 18 February 2019, there were 431 individuals in Nauru and 584 in Papua New Guinea.