Nauru detention centre contract: Canstruct must walk away from business in abuse

Nauru detention centre contract: Canstruct must walk away from business in abuse

The Department of Immigration revealed in Senate Estimates today that Australian engineering firm Canstruct was the only company approached to tender for the contract to run Australia’s immigration detention centre on Nauru.

Keren Adams, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said, if it goes ahead with the contract, Canstruct will be complicit in an intentionally abusive system.

“There are huge legal, financial and reputational risks for any company involved with Australia’s abusive offshore detention centres. We’ve already seen Transfield and Ferrovial walk away from Manus and Nauru after a successful, sustained global campaign by human rights groups. Canstruct should seriously reflect on what they are getting themselves into,” said Ms Adams.

"The offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island continue to be the sites of horrific and ongoing violations, including illegal detention, sexual assault and child abuse. What kind of organisation looks at that abuse and sees an opportunity for profit? There is simply no ethical way for a company to run these centres," said Ms Adams.

A leaked memo from Canstruct’s CEO last week, shows the company would take over the contract to run the Nauru centre by the end of the month, and will be paid $8 million by the Australian Government. According to the Immigration Department, no other company was interested in taking on the contract.

"Australia’s offshore detention is, by design, a regime of cruelty intended to breed hopelessness and despair. Canstruct say they are a family company all about helping communities and building bridges. If that really is the case it surely recognises that the indefinite warehousing of people seeking asylum and refugees in inhumane conditions is not acceptable business for any company." said Ms Adams.

The Nauru detention centre currently houses 369 people, including many children. However the 900 men remaining on Manus Island have recently been informed they can volunteer to move to the Nauru centre, suggesting the Australian Government intends to consolidate its offshore processing regime there.

For interviews or further information please call:

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519