Australia

'Abuse and poor conditions' in Australian asylum centre in Nauru

Picture of Nauru. Image copyright AFP
Image caption The asylum seekers are being held in a detention centre situated on the island nation of Nauru

Lawmakers in Australia have released a damning report detailing sub-standard living conditions and allegations of abuse in an asylum seeker detention centre in Nauru.

The BBC takes a look at the key points in the 207-page senate committee report, the outcome of an inquiry which began in March.

Conditions

The committee said that the conditions were "not adequate, appropriate or safe" for the 637 asylum seekers housed on Nauru. It noted that they had to live in cramped, hot and unhygienic dormitories with unclean toilets, limited access to water, and low-quality clothing and footwear.

It called on the government to improve infrastructure and accommodation, and speed up on processing refugee claims.

Children

The committee said there was no legal framework to protect the 86 children living in the centre, and urged the government to speed up its extraction of children and their families from the centre and re-home them in the Nauruan community.

It noted that the living conditions were an "unnatural environment" that was harming children's mental health, and that there were at least 30 allegations of child abuse, including sexual assault.

'Abuse' and 'no guarantee of safety'

There were also allegations of sexual assault or rape of asylum seekers, and accusations that staff and guards attempted to bribe detainees with contraband substances such as drugs in return for sexual favours.

The committee said there was also an alleged "culture of fear" in the detention centre where asylum seekers felt their safety was not guaranteed.

Staff misconduct

The company in charge of enforcing security at the centre, Wilson Security, also said it fired 11 staff for misconduct including inappropriate relationships, excessive use of force and sexual assault. Former employees also told the committee that some reports of abuse had been destroyed by management

The committee recommended a "full audit" of all abuse allegations and said the reporting of abuse or sexual harassment should be made mandatory. It also recommended that staff from Wilson Security and the centre's operator, Transfield Services, be subjected to random daily testing for alcohol and drugs.

It called for an immigration ombudsman to do independent reviews of complaints.

Dissent

The committee's report also included a dissenting section from the ruling Liberal-National coalition, which rejected the findings of the committee and questioned the veracity of their evidence.

The coalition accused the committee, which was dominated by opposition lawmakers, of attempting to score political points and said that the inquiry was done to "advance the political perspective" of those senators.

But Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he was open to considering the committee's suggestions.

Read more: Nauru migrant centre 'unsafe for children' - senate report

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