Time to close detention centre on Nauru and invest in safe pathways to protection within region

Australia’s regional processing centre in Nauru is not a safe or appropriate environment for asylum seekers, according to a damning Senate Committee report released today.

The Senate Committee tasked with inquiring into circumstances and conditions at the Nauru Regional Processing Centre found that, despite a price tag of $1.3 million per day, basic human rights standards are not being met in the centre. The violations outlined in the report include physical and sexual assault, child abuse, high levels of physical and mental health problems and unacceptable living conditions.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Advocacy, Rachel Ball, said the findings were alarming but not surprising.

“Australia’s policies and the manner of their implementation create an environment where serious harm is inevitable. As long as the indefinite detention of a large number of vulnerable people, including children, in harsh conditions continues, so will the abuse and mistreatment,”said Ms Ball.

Several hours before the release of the Senate Committee’s report, Transfield Services announced that it is the preferred tenderer for the contract to provide welfare and garrison support services at Australia’s offshore detention centres.

“The Senate Committee’s report shows that offshore detention is inherently harmful. By re-contracting with the Australian Government, Transfield Services is signing up for five more years of complicity in serious human rights abuses, with all the legal, financial and reputational risk that entails," said Ms Ball.

The Human Rights Law Centre made a joint submission to the inquiry with Unicef Australia calling on the Australian Government to close the NRPC and allow asylum seekers’ protection claims to be assessed in Australia.

“It’s unacceptable that when people come to Australia seeking safety, we detain them in a place proven to be unsafe. These types of punitive policies will only continue to inflict harm on vulnerable men, women and children. It’s time for Australia to invest in providing safe alternative pathways to protection within our region,” said Ms Ball.


For further information, please contact Tom Clarke on 0422 545 763 or via tom.clarke@hrlc.org.au