Nauru migrant centre 'unsafe' for children - senate report

An aerial photograph of Nauru: The world's smallest republic Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nauru: The world's smallest republic

Australia's government is being urged to remove children from its detention centre on Nauru island in the Pacific.

The senate committee report published on Monday found conditions on Nauru were not "appropriate or safe" for detainees.

It said allegations of rape and abuse should be investigated and access given to journalists and rights workers.

All people who try to get to Australia by boat as refugees are detained in off-shore centres like Nauru.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the report had been "a witch hunt".

'Statement of the obvious'

The committee report was based on six months of investigations and public hearings.

It said the government should "extend its current policy commitment to remove children from immigration detention to the maximum extent possible", and "develop a plan for the removal of children" from Nauru "with their families where they have them, to appropriate arrangements in the community".

Mr Dutton said the report was a "political witch hunt", saying that rival Labor and Greens senators dominate the committee.

But he said he was "happy to consider any of the recommendations which provide for a better outcome for people".

"I think anyone would make that statement as a statement of the obvious," the Australian Broadcasting Corp quoted him as saying.

"We need to recognise... that regional processing is there because we are not going to allow these people to come to Australia."

Australia asylum: Why is it controversial?

Australia and asylum

  • The number of asylum seekers travelling to Australia by boat rose sharply in 2012 and early 2013. Scores of people have died making the journey.
  • To stop the influx, the government has adopted tough measures intended as a deterrent.
  • Everyone who arrives is detained. Under a new policy, they are processed in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Those found to be refugees will be resettled in PNG, Nauru or Cambodia.
  • Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government has also adopted a policy of tow-backs, or turning boats around.

The Greens party has called for an independent investigation of claims one of its senators was spied on during a visit to Nauru.

Sarah Hanson-Young was allegedly monitored and followed by private security guards from Wilson Security when she visited the centre on the Pacific island in 2013.

A former Nauru guard has described the operation as "extensive spying".

The claims follow comments by Wilson in June to a senate committee that the spying was unauthorised and minimal.

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