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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