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Australia/Nauru: Claims of abuse in Australian detention centres in Nauru

Allegations have surfaced of persistent abuse (including sexual abuse) of asylum seekers in Australian detention centres in Nauru. Under an agreement between Australia and Nauru, persons seeking asylum in Australia are transported to Nauru while their claims are reviewed - a process which often takes many months. The detention centres are operated by private contractors. The Australian government has announced it will investigate the claims.

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7 November 2014

Australia to probe sexual abuse claims at Nauru refugee centre

Author: Lincoln Feast, Reuters

... Refugee advocates this week said women in the Nauru centre were regularly required to strip and exchange sexual favours with guards for access to the showers, prompting calls for an investigation by the opposition Labor and Greens parties. Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said there were also accusations children had been forced to have sex in front of guards at the centre. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told reporters an independent investigation headed by a former integrity commissioner and working with the Nauru government had been appointed to look into the claims. ... Save the Children Australia, which provides counselling and support on the island, said ... "The truth is that cases of child self-harm on Nauru are a reality that has been well documented," the group said in a statement. "Children have taken the drastic step of sewing their lips together and refusing food and water in protest at their indefinite incarceration."

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7 November 2014

Australia/Nauru: Nauru detention firm stands by its staff

Author: Stephen Johnson, The West Australian

The [Australian] federal government has appointed former integrity commissioner Philip Moss to head an independent inquiry into the claims, as well as sexual misconduct allegations that emerged in October. Transfield Services chairman Diane Smith-Gander says its own investigations had found no evidence of wrongdoing. "We very much stand behind the actions of our staff," she told AAP after the company's annual general meeting in Sydney on Wednesday.  ... But the Refugee Action Coalition questioned Transfield's account during a protest outside the company meeting. "We've spoken to the asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru itself," the group's co-ordinator Ian Rintoul told AAP. "It's very, very clear that there are systematic abuses happening on Nauru and it is happening under Transfield's watch." The commonwealth inquiry was sparked after News Corp Australia published what it said were internal Transfield Services documents claiming that Save the Children staff working at the centre had fabricated abuse stories and coached asylum seekers to hurt themselves.

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7 November 2014

Australia/Nauru: Nauru staff report persistent child abuse and self-harm, leaked documents show

Author: Oliver Laughland and Ben Doherty, The Guardian

... Guardian Australia has obtained, from a number of sources, minutes of welfare meetings and a Transfield intelligence report, which detail some of the child protection and abuse concerns in Nauru camps. Those documents show, in the week beginning 2 June: A 17-year-old boy who attempted suicide with a razor after being told he was not allowed access to the internet; A 16-year-old girl who told her case workers she had been tormented and sexually harassed by detention centre security guards. The girl reported a number of male Nauruan employees “have tried to hug her, kiss her, told her they would marry her and asked her to have a ‘sexy party’”. ... Morrison announced on Friday that his acting department head, Phillip Moss, would head an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of children in Nauru’s detention centres. 

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