UN human rights chief calls for Australian action on ‘dire’ Nauru situation

The UN’s human rights chief, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, tonight expressed extreme concern about the serious allegations of violence, sexual assault, degrading treatment and self-harm contained in leaked incident reports from Australia’s offshore processing centre on Nauru.

“The Australian government has set up a system which inflicts tremendous harm on innocent people, including children. This condemnation from the UN High Commissioner highlights the gravity of human rights violations,” said the Human Rights Law Centre’s Executive Director, Hugh de Kretser.

The condemnation from the UN follows the publication this week of over 2000 leaked incident reports from Nauru in The Guardian documenting extensive child sexual abuse, assaults, injuries and self-harm.

In his statement, the High Commissioner highlighted the “increasingly dire and untenable” situation for people sent by Australia to Nauru and Manus Island.

“No policy challenges justify inflicting this harm on innocent people. We are responsible for the harm. We can’t turn a blind eye. We have to end this now by bringing these people here to safety,” said Mr de Kretser.

The High Commissioner’s statement can be read here.

Earlier today the Human Rights Law Centre, along with the Australian Council for International Development and the Australian Council of Social Services, released legal advice that the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has the power to examine the response of the Australian Government and its contractors to child sexual abuse on Nauru.

“At the same time as we have two Royal Commissions into institutional child sex abuse and abuse in youth detention centres, we’re warehousing children on Nauru in conditions that allow this abuse to thrive.” said Mr de Kretser.

For all media queries, please contact:

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications: 0419 100 519

Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director: 0403 965 340