British newspaper The Guardian recently published an extraordinary report on brutal living conditions at the Australian detention camp at Nauru Island. The cache of more than 2,000 leaked incident reports has generated worldwide outrage. Laura Ling has the details in today's Seeker Daily dispatch.
The set of documents referred to as the Nauru files reveal detailed accounts of violence, child abuse, sexual assault and other criminal offenses endured by refugees and asylum seekers. The Nauru Regional Processing Center is one of two isolated, offshore detention centers used by the Australian government to detain those who try to enter the country by boat.
The leaked reports were compiled by guards, case workers, medical officers and others who worked at Nauru over the years. Until the recent disclosures, little was known about conditions in the detention centers. Employees are legally prohibited from discussing facility policies, and detainees are not allowed access to phones or social media.
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The internal incident reports were never intended to see the light of day, and the details are disturbing. According to the leaked documents, detainee families at Nauru endure prison-like conditions and regular, systemic abuse from guards, locals and other asylum seekers.
Shockingly, more than 50 percent of the incidents involve children, even though minors represented just 18 percent of the detainee population at the time of the reports. Nauru and Manus, Australia's other offshore detention center, house about 1,300 people at any given time.
The documents also reveal that the Australian government was aware of conditions at the facility, yet failed to take any action. Australian officials say that the leaked documents are uncorroborated and unconfirmed.
In response to the Guardian expose, human rights groups around the world have demanded immediate action. Legal, medical and religious organizations have also joined the call for change, as well as two official United Nations agencies.
Check out Laura's report for more details, including some disturbing indications that the recent disclosure may be just the tip of the iceberg.
-- Glenn McDonald
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The Guardian: The Lives of Asylum Seekers in Detention Detailed in a Unique Database
BBC: Australia to Close Manus Island Asylum Centre
NPR: Claims Probed of Brutal Conditions for Refugees on Island of Nauru