A new poll shows Australians are “bleating all they want” for the Turnbull Government to close the camps and let asylum seekers stay.
“Playing with people’s lives like this is just unconscionable.”
The ABC has hit back at criticism of a Four Corners investigation into the life asylum seeker children on Nauru.
There are 755 refugees on Nauru and 128 of them are children. Many of these children are struggling to hang on to hope, released from detention but trapped in limbo.
Jim Molan rejected claims by Amnesty International that conditions on Nauru are the worst in the world, despite admitting he has never been there.
How an Australian working on Nauru started off despising asylum seekers, and ended up sickened by their predicament.
The dry, disengaged language of the leaked reports makes an endless cycle of crises seem mundane. The cache of documents is both horrific and banal
Exclusive: The largest cache of documents to be leaked from within Australia’s asylum seeker detention regime details assaults, sexual assaults and self-harm
Three Australians who taught asylum seekers on the island say the offshore detention regime is engendering illiteracy and robbing children of their childhood
From the Nauru files: Nauru Regional Processing Centre Incident or Information Report. Names redacted
The Australian government has distanced itself from Nauru’s controversial visa policies, which keep journalists and other critics out. But it seems no one told the Nauruan consulate. Max Chalmers reports. A senior Australian barrister who applied for a visa was told by the Nauruan consulate she must first gain approval from the Australian government, aMore
UPDATE 2.20PM: The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has confirmed Iranian refugee who set himself on fire on Nauru on Wednesday has died.”A 23-year-old Iranian man who set hims
As stories emerge of contractors beating children on Nauru, Wilson Security’s entire operation looks increasingly broken.
The young African refugee known only as S99 says she was in the midst of an epileptic seizure when she was set upon and raped.
Two detainees received medical treatment following an alleged riot involving children at the Nauru detention centre overnight, in a dramatic escalation of tensions on the remote Pacific island.
“Where is reality? … It is something dark and dramatic that is present but cannot be grasped for it has no visible form and, therefore, can be neither described nor represented. Reality … is …
Source: Nauru: What Reality is This?
The Australian’s associate editor is the first journalist in 18 months to gain press access to the island – a goal placed out of reach for most immigration reporters
Save the Children workers in Nauru are searched and have their phones and computers confiscated after the charity’s office is raided by Nauruan police.
“I knew it would come to this,” said Liberal backbencher Russell Broadbent, talking about children in detention on ABC radio. “It has come to this again. The Australian people are standing up and saying, No, not on.”
Source: Kids in camps | The Monthly
Nauru’s culture of hospitality once applied to all, including the asylum seekers who arrived in 2001 to a dance of welcome, a tradition depicted on this stamp. Refugee resettlement has changed all that. Author provided
Refugees settled on Nauru woke on Monday to find an ominous letter, signed “Youth of Republic of Nauru”, had been delivered overnight. Copies had been left at shops, homes, workplaces employing refugees and a restaurant, as well as at Fly Camp where male refugees are held and at the family camp and houses where young unaccompanied refugees live. Copies were thrown over the detention centre fence, erasing the distinction between recognised refugees settled outside and those still in detention under an agreement between the Australian and Nauru governments.
The distribution of the letter points to an orchestrated campaign, rather than a spontaneous individual act of intimidation.
The letter states:
“… we warn Refugees to Go Away of our country and just to hell with all your concerns if not, get ready for the bad things happening and waiting ahead.
It contains disturbing resentments and accusations:
Our women, girls and daughters are having contact with refugees and having affairs with them and we can never see our women having fun with refugees and neglecting locals.
It warns that:
… we can see clearly in near future refugees will be the leading and ruling people and will make local community people their slaves.
Such charges are characteristic of hate manifestos designed to mobilise communities against targeted groups. They are recognisable as the grievances that historically inform racist propaganda. The aim is to scapegoat and intimidate target groups and incite violence against them with the objective of removing them from the community.
We warn our Corrupt Government as well Australian Government to take away your rubbish (refugees) and leave our country, otherwise there can be worse situations for refugees as you can see these days.
The reference to “rubbish” articulates precisely the logic of ethnic cleansing.
The phrase “as you can see” is a chilling reference to acts of thuggery against unaccompanied juvenile refugees, to whom a particular duty of care is owed. Living on their own in isolated locations, these vulnerable young refugees have reported being harassed, intimidated and physically beaten by groups of men on motorbikes.
These attacks were reported to authorities, including police and Save the Children, which is contracted to care for the refugees.
After seeing the letter, refugees again reported their fears to these authorities. The government has dismissed their concerns. They have not received any guarantees to safeguard their welfare and remain in great fear.
Australia in denial of its responsibility
Nauruan authorities reportedly responded that Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) should be the one to address the refugees’ concerns. Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has already washed his hands of his obligations. His spokesman has stated that any attack on a person settled on Nauru “is wholly a matter for Nauru”.
This is a blatant abrogation of responsibility. In the international context, it demonstrates a total disregard for the spirit of the Refugee Convention. Regionally, it evidences a disturbing indifference to the volatile and increasingly violent conditions that Australian policy has generated in neighbouring states such as Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
By exploiting its political and economic power over former Australian protectorates for domestic political ends, Australia has created conditions that serve to foment unrest with potentially lethal consequences.
The letter states:
… we cannot see and tolerate that Australia Government headache (refugees) [is] making our lives crashing and bringing down to the ground.
In other words, even as the letter scapegoats refugees, it holds Australia responsible for the new elements introduced to “our small and congested community”. It argues that:
Nauru is a conservative country, it is not a multicultural country so resettling refugees means that inducing [sic] culture from different countries and we think that we are never been ready for that.
Detention camps and their social and physical infrastructure – personnel, equipment, environmental features – are visible markers of Australian power. Their imposition compounds the legacy of Australia’s colonial impositions, one of irreversible environmental destruction and serious economic and political damage.
A once welcoming culture poisoned
In diagnosing the nativist sentiment of this letter, we wish to emphasise the dangerous conditions Australia has irresponsibly engendered in a small and vulnerable neighbour. Already disadvantaged, Nauruans are being called upon to assume Australians’ responsibilities. Our failure to fulfil our international obligations to refugees within our own expansive borders and our outsourcing of these to small, resource-poor societies lies at the heart of the ugly and violent sentiments expressed in the letter.
Such sentiments represent an erosion of Pacific communities’ traditional values of hospitality. At a recent Australian Studies conference, colleagues from the region voiced distress at this perversion of core aspects of their societies and cultures. In 2001, when the first asylum seekers landed on Nauru under the Pacific Solution, Nauruans greeted them with a welcome dance. Today Nauru and Australia are both harsher and lesser societies.
The cultivation of nativism in place of values of generosity has taken a disturbing turn on Nauru. Several refugees have expressed the sense that underlying political agendas are driving it: “we are just being kicked around for politics”.
We call on Minister Morrison and DIAC to assume their ethical and legal responsibility to protect unaccompanied minors and other recognised refugees whom the Australian government has placed on Nauru. Australia should immediately reassess a policy that has proved so destructive in its effects, as refugees continue to be resettled in a climate of fear and uncertainty.
The letter campaign is the latest chilling symptom of the toxic effects of Australia’s “no advantage” policy. That it invokes the horrific spectre of ethnic cleansing is an indictment of the great wrong we have perpetrated in our region.
It’s a rocky time for everyone clinging to the border protection liferaft. We’ve got unaccompanied child refugees in Nauru being bashed and threatened with death and, if that’s insufficiently disturbing, coming down the pipeline is new migration and maritime legislation that enshrines the most fevered attempt to shred the rule of law.
First to Nauru, where last week Guardian Australia reported four unaccompanied boys between 15 and 17, who had refugee status and were living in the community, had been roughed-up by a group of local men on motorbikes. They made it clear that these “motherfucker refugees” were not welcome on the charmless rocky outcrop.
Two of the lads were hospitalised and all of them traumatised. Scott Morrison, characteristically, managed to be both ruthless and inaccurate. He took no responsibility for these refugees. “This incident is wholly a matter for Nauru,” he said.
It would be near-impossible to record each and every occasion Morrison dissembled, misled or was downright inaccurate. But this particular pork pie cannot be allowed to pass without taking a big bite from it. It is not entirely a matter for Nauru at all, it is mainly a matter for Morrison, for a number of reasons.
The minister may not be aware of it, but there is a well developed body of law governing state responsibility, which says nations cannot simply divest themselves of legal obligations.
The fact that Morrison is not capable of “delegating out” can be found not only in international law, but in the memorandum of understanding between Nauru and Australia. Among other things it says, “participants [ie the two countries] will treat refugees with dignity and respect and in accordance with relevant human rights standards”.
The use of the word “participants” means that this is not just on Nauru’s shoulders. Further, nothing in the document limits Australia’s human rights obligations.
Most asylum seekers sent by the Australian government to the tiny island, who are found to be refugees, are only given Nauruan visas for five years. What happens after that is unknown. Maybe a few will be sent, against their will, to Cambodia.
Settlement in Nauru was only ever a temporary “solution”. The future of these refugees is still in the hands of the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
Madeline Gleeson, a research associate at the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of NSW, says that until a durable solution is found, the children who have been injured and threatened are still within Australia’s obligation of care.
Nor can Morrison shrug off Australia’s international obligations under the treaties to which it is a party – specifically in this case the conventions dealing with the rights of the child, the status of refugees, and civil and political rights. In any case, the parliamentary joint committee on human rights has found the new laws breach Australia’s obligations under international law.
As recently as June this year in the case where the high court found that capping protection visas was invalid, Robert French, the chief justice, said that the Migration Act must be construed consistently with Australia’s treaty obligations – unless parliament specifically and unambiguously says otherwise.
For good measure, the European court of justice has ruled that unaccompanied children cannot be arbitrarily transferred between countries in such a way as to prolong the processing of refugee claims.
The European court of human rights, in 2012, found that countries cannot contract out of their state responsibilities. In that case, Italy could not under a bilateral agreement transfer irregular arrivals by sea to Libya.
This body of jurisprudence resonates with the prevailing Australian circumstances. But what can be done about it?
The treaties themselves do not provide remedies. Madeline Gleeson says their purpose is to establish a “normative minimum standard” for the treatment of all people within Australia’s jurisdiction, including children and refugees.
To get a remedy for youngsters in harm’s way in Nauru would require someone to get the government to court, on the basis that Morrison has breached his duty of care.
While the minister’s hand-washing routine continues, he has other treats in his locker – the daddy of them all being a bill to give him far-reaching powers over the detention and dispatch of asylum seekers, along with measures to dismantle previous high court findings and head off future ones.
The Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill is quite a mouthful and seeks to bite off more that the government can legally digest.
The legislation, if passed, would give power to the minister to detain people on the high seas and send them anywhere, including back to where they face persecution – in breach of the refugee convention and the convention against torture.
The convention relating to the status of refugees also comes in for a frontal attack, as the legislation removes references to it from the Migration Act. In some peculiar drafting mindset there’s a mistaken belief that once shredded from domestic law the internationally ordained obligations to refugees can be forgotten.
Other main provisions include the usual cat-and-mouse game with lawyers – empowering bureaucratic arbitrariness and limiting the rule of law. There are also provisions that would overturn the high court’s decision in June, by permitting the minister to cap the number of protection visas.
Submissions to the senate legal and constitutional affairs legislation committee are now closed, with a reporting date of November 27.
The Coalition continues to dress-up these punitive measures with the conceit that they have the humanitarian purpose of saving lives at sea – never mind the painstaking destruction of lives on land. This is the moral vacuum into which Morrison and his colleagues have plunged us.
Scott Morrison will sign a refugee resettlement deal with Cambodia
- 2 hours ago September 24, 2014
IMMIGRATION Minister Scott Morrison will sign a controversial refugee resettlement deal with Cambodia at the end of the week.
But details of the agreement won’t be made public until after it is signed off in Phnom Penh on Friday.
The Abbott government only confirmed a deal had been reached after the Cambodian government announced Mr Morrison’s impending visit.
Under the agreement, asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat and are found to be refugees after being processed offshore on Nauru or Manus Island in Papua New Guinea could voluntary choose to be resettled in Cambodia.
They will have freedom of movement and work rights.
Mr Morrison, earlier in September, said the arrangement was not about “just putting people somewhere and looking the other way”. Labor is demanding the government release details of the agreement.
It was “completely unacceptable” that Australians were being forced to rely on Cambodia for news of an agreement the government was preparing to sign, opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles said.
He asked how Cambodia was an acceptable location to send refugees when the coalition rejected a Gillard government proposal to resettle asylum seekers in Malaysia.
The government previously has defended the plan by saying Cambodia is a signatory to the UN Convention on Human Rights. However, the Greens and refugee groups have cited the country’s human rights record and poor economic status.
The Greens have vowed to vote against the “dirty deal” if and when the government seeks parliamentary approval for the agreement. As one of the poorest nations in the world, Cambodia struggled to look after its own citizens, let alone the refugees Australia wants to “dump” there, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
Women and young girls especially would be at extreme risk of abuse and exploitation.
“The moment those young girls walk off a plane in Cambodia, their lives will be at risk,” she told reporters.