“Assaults, sexual abuse, self-harm, inhuman conditions – over 2,000 newly leaked reports paint a sordid picture of Australia’s offshore refugee detention operations on the Pacific island of Nauru.” By forcibly transferring refugees and people seeking asylum to Nauru, detaining them for prolonged periods in inhuman conditions, denying them appropriate medical care, and in other ways structuring its operations so that many experience a serious degradation of their mental health, the Australian government has violated the rights to be free from torture and other ill-treatment, and from arbitrary detention, as well as other fundamental protections.
Described as a system marred by routine dysfunction and cruelty, the conditions that asylum seekers remain in under Australia’s offshore detention operations are indicative of a complete disregard of human rights, human dignity and Australian national responsibility. Whilst Australia previously has had a fairly supportive and clean record with regards to human rights, the ongoing issue of asylum seekers has plagued the country’s record for over a decade. Public support and encouragement of the settlement of refugees is not matched in the government, and initiatives designed to dissuade asylum seekers from taking treacherous journeys on boats to Australia have been largely unsuccessful. With both sides of government unable to create new ways of approaching the ongoing issue, it is difficult to gauge the extent of the issues or alternative solutions to them.
Bodies affiliated with the government, as well as NGOs such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International have had ongoing criticism of the ongoing human rights abuses occurring. The Australian government’s persistent failure to address abuses committed under its authority on Nauru strongly suggests that they are adopted or condoned as a matter of policy. Moreover, Australia and Nauru impose strict secrecy on the processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and refuse most requests to visit from journalists or researchers.