Australia

Nauru confirms refugee child assault investigation

An aerial photograph of Nauru: The world's smallest republic Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nauru, the world's smallest republic, is housing refugees who tried to come Australia

Nauru's police force has confirmed it is investigating an alleged sexual assault on a refugee child.

The reports said a six-year-old girl was allegedly assaulted by a person known to her and that the girl's father intervened to stop the act.

A statement issued by Nauru police said the alleged assailant was also a refugee.

Anyone who tries to reach Australia by boat to claim asylum is held in offshore centres, including on Nauru.

Australian government figures show that 92 children are in the Nauru centre, located about 4,500km (2,800 miles) northeast of Australia.

The government has been repeatedly urged to remove children from Nauru, with a Senate report last year saying conditions there were not "appropriate or safe".

Family anger

Nauru police said it would be "inappropriate to provide details of an ongoing investigation".

"However we can confirm that both the alleged victim and the person accused by the family of the alleged victim are from the refugee community on Nauru."

It said the alleged incident happened outside the centre which houses the refugees and migrants.

The girl's family expressed dismay at police handling of the case in the Guardian.

Her father, an Iranian refugee, said police had failed to arrest or charge the man he said was responsible for the assault.

But officials defended their handling of the case on the Republic of Nauru Twitter feed.

"[Nauru Police Force] acting according to normal procedures / due process & asks those making uninformed comments & journalists to allow police to do their job," one tweet said.

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