Nauru and Manus Island

Where is the truth, what does it mean and what can we do?

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Since 13 August 2012, the Australian Government has transferred over 1,300 men, women and children who sought asylum in Australia, arriving by boat, to indefinite detention in immigration processing centres on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. 

“The Nauru Files” are eyewitness accounts of events that have happened on Nauru, leaked from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and published by the Guardian News Service on 10 August 2016.  They indicate to the Australian people and the world the true nature of detention in Nauru and, by extension, on Manus Island, PNG.

The Government has responded by saying that:

It is not responsible for any reparation, investigation or remediation as Papua New Guinea and Nauru are sovereign nations.

Fact: Australia founded, funds and operates the centres.

Transferees on Manus Island, PNG and Nauru can return to their country of origin despite the fact that. 

Fact: Australia acknowledges that 98% of those on Manus Island, PNG are refugees and returning to their country of origin may mean returning to serious harm or death.

Many of the incident reports in the Nauru Files are bogus or not as serious as stated.  

   Fact: Australia has not explained how incident reports written by Department of Immigration employees and contractors can be fabricated by the transferees.  It has not explained why three-year-old incidents will only now be investigated in response to media reporting.

Allowing the transferees to settle in Australia would encourage people smugglers to resume their trade.

Fact: This did not happen as soon as the centres were closed and transferees resettled in Australia in 2008.  At that time, over 90% of the people assessed as refugees were resettled in Australia or New Zealand.

The Government further asserts that incidents of self-harm and other mental and physical illnesses are not genuine but are attempts by asylum seekers to manipulate a transfer to Australia.

The Nauru Files have been added to and corroborated by the Amnesty International Report Island of Despair: Australia’s ‘Processing’ of Refugees on Nauru released 17 October 2016.  The report exposes how the Government of Australia has flouted the 1951 Refugee Convention, undermining its purpose and the values for which it stands by warehousing children, men and women on Nauru … an open-air prison.” The report concludes that “the conditions on Nauru … amount to torture.”

Since the Island of Despair report was released, advocacy groups and members of the community have raised voices in opposition to the fate of the people transferred to Nauru and Manus Island, PNG.  The cruelty of Australia’s policy was again reinforced with the announcement on 30 October 2016 that no one who came to Australia by boat after 19 July 2013 will ever be able to come to Australia on any type of visa – student, spouse, business, tourism or family reunion.  This is further punishment of innocent people who sought Australia’s protection.  The life time ban may well see Australia banning USA or New Zealand citizens: banning professionals from attending conferences, banning family members from attending funerals or weddings.  The ban is an extraordinary addition to the current narrative.  The move begs the question of whether the Government is listening to any part of the conversation except its own.

As a signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, among others, the Government failed to accept responsibility for the wellbeing and outcome of the transferees in both centres.

This report highlights the questions and comments made in relation to the Australian run processing centres on Manus Island, PNG and Nauru.  It will answer some of the questions and verify (fact check) some of the claims made in relation to the centres and the transferees. 



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