Cruel anniversary for 1650 people – including 124 children – still imprisoned on Manus and Nauru

Cruel anniversary for 1650 people – including 124 children – still imprisoned on Manus and Nauru

Today, Thursday 19 July marks five years of limbo and suffering for over 1650 men, women and children indefinitely imprisoned in the Turnbull Government’s refugee camps on Manus Island and Nauru.

The group includes 124 children, 40 of whom have spent their entire lives warehoused in offshore detention.

Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre who has visited Manus Island three times, said that after five years of misery, suffering and death, it was well and truly time for the Turnbull Government to move every single person out of these offshore camps.

“Five years is absolutely huge in the life of a child. These kids should be free and full of curiosity and hope. Instead, they are growing up surrounded by suffering and despair. Children as young as 10 are trying to kill themselves,” said Mr Webb.

“Whatever the question, continuing to wreck the lives of these 124 children is not the answer.”

On 19 July 2013, the Rudd Government announced that anyone arriving by boat would be deported to indefinite offshore detention. Five years on, the Turnbull Government continues to detain over 870 men, women and children on Nauru and over 780 men are still languishing on Manus Island.

“It’s been five long, painful years. Women have been sexually assaulted. Children have been so traumatised that they have needed urgent psychiatric care. Twelve people have died. Such deliberate and sustained cruelty to innocent human beings is fundamentally wrong,” said Mr Webb.

In November 2016 the Government announced its US resettlement deal with the Obama Administration agreeing to resettle a maximum of 1250 people detained on Manus and Nauru. However, almost two years after the agreement was announced only around 300 people have been resettled and Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the deal.

Mr Webb said that even if the US deal is eventually fully implemented there will still be around 800 people left behind on Manus and Nauru with no end or solution in sight.

“When you look at the numbers it’s clear that the US deal is nowhere near enough. This dark chapter does not close until every single man, woman and child on Manus and Nauru is finally rebuilding their lives in safety,” said Mr Webb.

“Our Government can’t just imprison people on remote islands forever. These men, women and children deserve a future. After five long years, enough is enough.”

For interviews please call:

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