The Refugee Council of Australia released this statement on May 8.
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The Refugee Council of Australia has met delegates of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to raise serious ongoing concerns regarding the lack of oversight, safety and protection for asylum seekers detained at Australia’s behest on Nauru.
Paul Power, CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia, said: “The serious ongoing concerns regarding the safety and protection of asylum seekers, particularly children and women, have not been adequately investigated nor addressed on Nauru.
“The widely documented sexual, physical and psychological abuse in detention and for asylum seekers on Nauru, including the government’s own investigation collated in the Moss review, illustrate that there are enormous problems and the people who are suffering have no recourse to justice.
“The situation for children, women and men in detention on Nauru is like Lord of the Flies, particularly at night time when the sense of lawlessness is at its worst. There must be accountability for the children and adults affected by this abuse and importantly, the Australian government’s culpability needs to be urgently investigated by an independent body.
“As the Moss review has made clear, there is no independent organisation on Nauru that has the capacity to adequately investigate abuse allegations.”
Power also raised with the UN subcommittee the issue of family separation under which children and their mothers are potentially permanently separated from other family members.
“The profoundly negative psychological impact of separating families indefinitely cannot be understated, and this was a matter the UN representatives were also eager to hear.”
The chair of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Malcolm Evans, and subcommittee members June Lopez and Nora Sveaass were in Sydney following their visit to Nauru. It was the subcommittee’s first visit to Nauru, to assess how the nation is meeting its obligations as a signatory to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.
The Refugee Council of Australia coordinated a call for an immediate moratorium on the transfer of asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus this month, which was supported by over 120 organisations.
The Australian Government has fully endorsed all recommendations in both the Moss and Cornall reviews, but no indication has been given that any of these recommendations have been implemented.