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August 19, 2016

Employees from the Nauru and Manus Island Processing Centres speak out

Employees from the Nauru and Manus Island Processing Centres speak out

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Friday, August 19, 2016

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After meeting with Papau New Guinea‘s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill in Port Moseby, Australia’s Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton confirmed on Wednesday, that the Manus Island Processing Centre will be shut down. There was no mention of where the 854 men currently detained will be resettled to, except that Australia refuses to accept them.

Map of Nauru Island
Image: IU.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

In an interview with the ABC, Dutton gave no time frame for the closure of the facility and said, the process can’t be rushed. Dutton also said he was currently talking to third countries to discuss options for resettlement.

O’Neill also released a statement confirming the closure of the Manus Island Processing Centre, which he has called for since April, when Papau New Guinea’s Supreme Council ruled that Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on the Pacific Island was illegal.

News of the closure came shortly after {{w:The Guardian}} published over 2,000 leaked incident reports (the Nauru Files from the Nauru Regional Processing Centre, last Wednesday, which revealed the poor treatment and living conditions endured by asylum seekers, some of which have been detained for three years.

Last Thursday, Dutton, dismissed and downplayed the asylum seeker’s reports of sexual assault, child abuse and self harm; which were exposed in the Nauru Files. Dutton accused asylum seekers of fabricating sexual abuse reports; and setting themselves on fire in an attempt to seek asylum in Australia. He even insinuated that the claims were false since the asylum seekers payed people smugglers to gain access to Australia.

Chris Lougheed, The Deputy Education Manager with Save the Children, who reviewed and submitted some of the incident reports within the Nauru Files, rebuked Dutton’s comments and said the reports were accurate and “written by experienced professionals.”

Nauru’s detention camp had previously been shrouded in secrecy, as local journalists are rarely granted permission to film or interview asylum seekers, and foreign journalists are required to pay an $8,000 application fee to visit and report from the remote island.

In response to the Nauru files; 103 current and previous employees from Australia‘s offshore processing facilities on Nauru and Manus Island signed and released a letter, urging for the detained refugees to be granted asylum in Australia instantly. Human rights, legal, religious, and medical groups have also demanded for the Australian government to end what they consider inhumane treatment of asylum seekers in the offshore processing centres.


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Australia\’s offshore processing facility on Manus Island to be shut down

Australia’s offshore processing facility on Manus Island to be shut down

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Friday, August 19, 2016

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After meeting with Papau New Guinea‘s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill in Port Moseby, Australia’s Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton confirmed on Wednesday, that the Manus Island Processing Centre will be shut down. There was no mention of where the 854 men currently detained will be resettled to, except that Australia refuses to accept them.

Map of Nauru Island
Image: IU.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

In an interview with the ABC, Dutton gave no time frame for the closure of the facility and said, the process can’t be rushed. Dutton also said he was currently talking to third countries to discuss options for resettlement.

O’Neill also released a statement confirming the closure of the Manus Island Processing Centre, which he has called for since April, when Papau New Guinea’s Supreme Council ruled that Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on the Pacific Island was illegal.

News of the closure came shortly after {{w:The Guardian}} published over 2,000 leaked incident reports (the Nauru Files) from the Nauru Regional Processing Centre, last Wednesday, which revealed the poor treatment and living conditions endured by asylum seekers, some of which have been detained for three years.

Last Thursday, Dutton dismissed and downplayed the asylum seeker’s reports of sexual assault, child abuse and self harm; which were exposed in the Nauru Files. Dutton accused asylum seekers of fabricating sexual abuse reports; and setting themselves on fire in an attempt to seek asylum in Australia. He even insinuated that the claims were false since the asylum seekers payed people smugglers to gain access to Australia.

Chris Lougheed, The Deputy Education Manager with Save the Children, who reviewed and submitted some of the incident reports within the Nauru Files, rebuked Dutton’s comments and said the reports were accurate and “written by experienced professionals.”

Nauru’s detention camp had previously been shrouded in secrecy, as local journalists are rarely granted permission to film or interview asylum seekers, and foreign journalists are required to pay an $8,000 application fee to visit and report from the remote island.

In response to the Nauru files; 103 current and previous employees from Australia‘s offshore processing facilities on Nauru and Manus Island signed and released a letter, urging for the detained refugees to be granted asylum in Australia instantly. Human rights, legal, religious, and medical groups have also demanded for the Australian government to end what they consider inhumane treatment of asylum seekers in the offshore processing centres.


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August 17, 2016

Australia\’s Immigration Minister responds to leaked incident reports from the Nauru Regional Processing Centre

Australia’s Immigration Minister responds to leaked incident reports from the Nauru Regional Processing Centre

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

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Today, 103 current and previous employees from Australia‘s offshore processing facilities on Nauru and Manus Island signed and released a letter, urging for the detained refugees to be granted asylum in Australia instantly, in order to assure their safety. Those supporting the letter include: case workers, teachers, doctors, social workers from Broadspectrum (previously Transfield), Save the Children and other contracted workers for the Nauru and Manus Regional Processing Centres.

Map of Nauru Island
Image: IU.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

The letter comes in response to {{w:The Guardian}} publishing over 2,000 leaked incident reports (the Nauru Files), which totalled over 8,000 pages from the Nauru Regional Processing Centre, last Wednesday. The Nauru files revealed the poor treatment and living conditions endured by asylum seekers, some of which have been detained for three years.

The Guardian’s analysis shows children are involved in 51.3% of the incident reports, despite only consisting of 18% of people in the detention facility during the time of reports, between May 2013 to October 2015. The leaked files were published by the Guardian, who claimed the Australian public has a right to know.

A Senate Inquiry has since been proposed by the Australian Labor Party, but the current and former employees involved in the letter believe it to be an inadequate move. In the letter, former child protection officer from Save the Children, Toby O’Brien said the evidence brought forth from the Nauru Files is “overwhelmingly clear” and action was required immediately. The Nauru and Manus staff also said many had given evidence at the last Senate Inquiry, which was ignored as conditions didn’t improve and the mental health of the detained asylum seekers continued to deteriorate on both Nauru and for the males held on the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.

Last Thursday, Australia’s immigration minister, Peter Dutton, dismissed the asylum seeker’s reports of sexual assault, child abuse and self harm; which were exposed in the Nauru Files. Dutton disregarded the seriousness of the abuse, claiming it had been already reported. He said he was aware of some of the incidents reported, but accused asylum seekers of fabricating sexual abuse reports; and setting themselves on fire in an attempt to seek asylum in Australia. He has also insinuated that the claims are fabricated due to asylum seekers paying people smugglers to gain access to Australia.

Chris Lougheed, The Deputy Education Manager with Save the Children, who reviewed and submitted some of the incident reports within the Nauru Files, rebuked Dutton’s comments and said “these reports are accurate observations written by experienced professionals.” Lougheed also demanded for the Australian government to take immediate responsibility and release the asylum seekers to Australia.

Nauru’s detention camp had previously been shrouded in secrecy, as local journalists are rarely granted permission to film or interview asylum seekers, and foreign journalists are required to pay an $8,000 application fee to visit and report from the remote island. Yesterday, the Nauruan government’s official Twitter account tweeted that the reports were false and being used for a political agenda.

In response to the Nauru files; human rights, legal, religious, and medical groups have also demanded for the Australian government to end what they consider inhumane treatment of asylum seekers in the offshore processing centres. Over 1800 academics have pressured Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnball, to call a summit to consider ways Australia can help these asylum seekers and put an end to the ordeal endured in the facilities.


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January 11, 2014

Nauru raises media visa application fee from AU$200 to $8,000

Nauru raises media visa application fee from AU$200 to $8,000

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Nauru
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Nauru offshore processing facility in 2012.
Image: Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).

Nauru offshore processing facility in 2012.
Image: DIAC.

The cabinet of the island nation of Nauru endorsed rise of the cost of an application for single-entry three-month media visa from AU$200 to $8,000 last Thursday.

The rise followed a scandal last weekend involving 60 Lebanese asylum seekers voluntarily deciding to return home from the Nauru offshore processing facility, an Australian immigration detention facility, after facing harsh physical conditions and disorientation.

Nauru’s Government Information Office Director Joanna Olsson appeared to be unaware that the new visa fee had yet to take effect, writing an email to a visa applicant about the new fee last Tuesday: “Sorry for the late response but yes we are granting media visas. The fee is $8000 per visa, single entry valid for 3 months. The visa fee is not refundable if the application is not successful.” She also claimed the new fee had been implemented “a couple [of] months ago”, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

On the contrary, on Thursday during a meeting, Nauru’s Principal Immigration Officer Ernest Stephen said the price change was “not official” and the price rise had not yet passed into law through the Parliament. Stephen said only three or four Nauru media visas were granted last year.

A member of Nauru Opposition Group, Mathew Batsiua, claimed the move was an oppression of journalistic freedom. “They [the Nauru authorities] certainly bully our local media in terms of what they can show, who they can interview, and this is another illustration of that kind of behaviour in terms of bullying media and avoiding accountability. … This hiking up of fees for journalists coming in to Nauru is a step in that direction, and we think that it’s the wrong move and we’re certainly opposing it.”

The rise of the visa fee followed a recent scandal involving the majority of 60 Lebanese asylum seekers, targeted by people smugglers, deciding to return home from the Nauru and neighbouring Manus Island detention centres after a discussion with Australian government adviser Jamal Rifi on the weekend of January 4.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reviewed the detention centre in December 2012, reporting poor physical conditions:

The conditions at the closed and congested detention centre [are] harsh, with little natural shelter from the heat during the day. These conditions are aggravated by noise and dust from the construction of the permanent facility.

– UNHCR, 2012

The UNHCR has also cited delays processing the refugee applications, lack of legal counseling, health issues including trauma and mental health cases, and responsibility of both Australia and Nauru for the treatment. In another review in November last year, UHCR reported improved physical conditions while criticizing progress on reception conditions and refugee applications processing.

Yesterday Australian officials told a Pakistani refugee living in Australia that a refugee application could take up to ten years to process, while he was applying for refuge for his brothers following death of his parents and wife in Pakistan.



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February 5, 2013

UN adds to criticism of Australian offshore centers

UN adds to criticism of Australian offshore centers

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

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The UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1954 and 1981.
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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) echoed criticism from other human rights groups yesterday as its new report called on Australia to cease the practice of holding asylum seekers in an uncertain status in its offshore facilities.

The UNHCR spent three days in January at an Australian facility located on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Following Australian mandatory policy, the more than two hundred detainees held there were detained upon requesting asylum. More than 30 children are being held at this Australian facility. The UNHCR report raised the crowded conditions at the camp as a cause for concern, as well as the impact isolation could have on the children. Australia has another facility for asylum seekers on the island of Nauru. The UNHCR report made clear Australia does not have a process for clearing the asylum seekers, which means their detention in the camps is indefinite and a violation of international human rights.

Caught in the middle of the debate is the new immigration minister Brendan O’Connor. O’Connor was named immigration minister this weekend. The following night, a boat load of 60 refugees who were approached near Christmas Island sought asylum. Monday, the UNHCR issued its report. Union leaders, amongst them Brendan’s brother Michael O’Connor who is national secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, are calling for and end to current migration deals.

A report from Monash University found immigrants have taken 200,000 jobs created during the last two years, depressing employment of young, lower skilled Australians. Polls show a 70 percent majority of Australians stand opposed to the growth in population that will result from immigration.

Amnesty International points out that those migrants held in offshore processing facilities are not typical immigrants but rather asylum seekers. It says the latter category accounts for only three percent of Australia’s influx from immigration. Moreover, Amnesty International says the practice of offshore facilities for asylum seekers runs afoul of Australia’s own international agreements, such as the UN Refugee Convention, and laws, Australian Migration Act 1958.

In August, Prime Minister Julia Gillard indicated in talks with Nauru and Papua New Guinea that Australia was interested in quickly processing the asylum seekers.



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April 27, 2010

Snap election fails to end political deadlock in Nauru

Snap election fails to end political deadlock in Nauru

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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A snap election in Nauru has failed to end a political deadlock. The election, called a year early by President Marcus Stephen, had all eighteen members of parliament re-elected. President Stephen’s government is controlled by nine MP’s with his opponent holding the same number.

Because neither side can decide who should be speaker of the house, a government cannot be formed. Stephen’s opponent had been trying to get rid of him for several months. Stephen will remain in power with a caretaker government.

During his term in office, Stephen has been faced with numerous issues. Nauru was once one of the richest countries in the world, but due to bad investments has become one of the poorest. The country also has high rates of both obesity and unemployment.

Since Nauru gained independence in 1968, there has been 36 changes in government.



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August 17, 2007

Nauru to hold parliamentary elections

Nauru to hold parliamentary elections – Wikinews, the free news source

Nauru to hold parliamentary elections

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Position of Nauru in Oceania.

The tiny island nation of Nauru is to hold parliamentary elections next week, on August 25. The current government, which has been stable since 2004 after much political turbulence early in the early 2000s, wants to make changes in the way the parliamentary republic is governed, but wants to be elected for a new period before it goes ahead.

As of August 17, 83 candidates have expressed their intention to run in the election, according to Radio Australia. The voting system is a preferential system directly electing representatives. There is only one formal political party in Nauru, Naoero Amo (“Nauru First”).

The elections were supposed to be held in October, but have been moved ahead two months. The last parliamentary elections were held on October 23, 2004.

Presidential elections in Nauru were supposed to be held in June, but have been postponed until the end of 2007 due to discussion on whether to use indirect voting (which is currently used) or direct voting.

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August 21, 2006

Australia to detain Burmese boatpeople on Nauru

Australia to detain Burmese boatpeople on Nauru

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Location of remote island of Nauru, where Australia is sending 8 Burmese refugees

Eight Burmese boat people, who arrived off Western Australia’s Ashmore Reef last week, say they wish to claim refugee status. The group of 8 men, aged between 24 and 40, are being held in detention on Christmas Island by the Australian Federal Government. They will be sent to Nauru after identity interviews and medical checks are completed.

According to The Age newspaper, the men are from a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border, and may be from the Karen tribe, who are battling Burma’s brutal military Government. Karen rebels have been at war with the central Government for 57 years.

An Immigration department spokesman confirmed that the eight men claimed to be from Burma. Two of the men have contacted immigration lawyers, seeking assistance with asylum claims. David Manne, from Melbourne-based Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, said the other six were likely to do the same. “There’s a very strong likelihood that they are genuine refugees,” he said.

The men were first spotted by the Australian Customs Service at Ashmore Reef, 610km north of Broome, WA on August 13. They were sent by Navy vessel to Christmas Island – 2,400 km northwest of Perth, WA. The men have been held since Friday as part of the Howard Government’s Pacific Solution to keep asylum seekers out of the country.

In 2005, the Department of Immigration began construction of an Immigration Reception and Processing Centre on Christmas Island, due for completion late in 2006. The facility is estimated to cost $210 million, and will contain 800 beds.

No Legal Recourse for Burmese

The news of the boat people’s arrival became public last week as Prime Minister John Howard scrapped controversial new migration laws. The proposed laws would have excised the Australian mainland for immigration purposes.

Burma

Ashmore Reef, already excised from Australia’s migration zone, means the men have no legal entitlement to be brought to Australia for processing. They have no access to the Australian court system to argue their claims or contest the rulings of the Immigration Department.

Mr Manne said he was concerned that the circumstances of the men’s confinement could hamper their attempts to communicate with lawyers. He said the Burmese men should be afforded the same rights as the West Papuans or Vietnamese asylum-seekers who recently made it to Australian shores. “It’s absolutely crucial these people be given a fair go, so that they can actually speak with us properly about the issues,” he said. Mr Manne says he has made several requests of the Department of Immigration in Canberra.

“They’re asylum seekers… they believe that they’d be persecuted if sent to Burma, and we have agreed to act on their behalf.” He was unable to say whether the group was dropped off by people smugglers, as Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone claims.

“What we do know is they’re seeking refugee status, that is, protection from brutal human rights abuse,” he said. The Burmese regime has recently waged an aggressive attack on Karen insurgents – forcing thousands of villagers to hide in the jungle or seek refuge in Thailand. There are 140,000 refugees in seven camps along the Thai-Burma border.

Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle says the government must allow the Burmese group to be brought to Australia to process the asylum-seeker’s claims. “The government needs to ensure that all asylum seekers are offered legal support,” she said. “The best way to ensure the Burmese asylum seekers have full access to their lawyer is to bring them to Australia while their asylum claims are assessed.”

Nauru

File:Nauru-airphoto.jpg
Nauru

Meanwhile the near-bankrupt Nauru Government has urged Australia to “speed up asylum seeker processing” in their country. Nauru says Australia is taking far too long to process asylum seekers. Currently two refugees remain on Nauru – both Iraqi men. The men have been held in detention on the remote tiny island for five years.

According to The Age, the Nauru Government has approved a plan to impose financial penalties on Australia if asylum seekers are forced to languish on the near-bankrupt island. The report says if they have not been processed and either returned or resettled within three months, their visas will have to be renewed each month, with the cost increasing by $500 for each renewal.

Nauru’s Foreign Minister David Adeang raised serious concerns about the mental state of the detainees. He says Muhammad Faisal’s condition worsened sharply after he was re-interviewed by ASIO. Mr Adeang has asked for the Government to evacuate the Mr Faisal immediately, he says he is also concerned about the mental health of the other Iraqi man left on Nauru. The Australian Government claims advice from ASIO that the man may be a “security threat.”

Nauru is the world’s smallest island nation, covering just 21 km². Since 2001 it has accepted aid from the Australian government. In exchange for this aid, Nauru houses an ‘offshore’ detention centre for Australia.

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June 21, 2005

International Whaling Commission adjourns for private talks

International Whaling Commission adjourns for private talks

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A meeting of the International Whaling Commission in the South Korean city of Ulsan has adjourned for private talks with commissioners. The commission had been about to vote on a Japanese plan to increase its minke whale catch and to start hunting humpback whales.

Australia attempted to stop the adjournment accusing Japan of trying to stall the vote.

Nauru, The Gambia, and Togo applied to join the commission last week, but have no voting rights until their membership payments are cleared, which could happen any time during the IWC meeting. The three countries are expected to follow Japan’s pro-whaling line.

The 66 member body is currently evenly split between pro- and anti-whaling countries.

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