Papers reveal abuse at Australia’s offshore detention centre

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Canberra: More than 2,000 leaked reports detail widespread abuse and trauma among children and women at Australia’s offshore detention centre for asylum seekers on the Pacific island of Nauru.

The “incident reports”, published by the Guardian, reveal that self-harm and violence are commonplace at the centre.

Numerous reports were related to sexual assault and coercion of women. The Australian government said many reports were “unconfirmed allegations”.

“The Australian Government continues to support the Nauruan Government to provide for the health, welfare and safety of all transferees and refugees,” an immigration department spokesperson said.

“All alleged incidents within the regional processing centre are reported and where appropriate referred to the Nauru Police Force (NPF) for investigation.”

Australia outsources the processing of asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat to two privately run facilities — one on Nauru and another on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

The companies that run the facilities and security are contractually required to report incidents of various kinds within specified time frames, BBC reported.

The secretiveness of the Australian and Nauruan governments about conditions at the centre has led to complaints from the media and human rights groups.

A large number of the reports concern children, either describing alleged abuse or disturbing and unusual behaviour brought on by trauma. One report alleges that a security guard shone a torch on a young girl’s genitals as she tried to urinate.

Others detail children suffering nightmares of “blood and death” and wishing for suicide.

Twenty-three of the reports describe sexual assaults, particularly against young women. Hundreds of incidents of threatened and actual self-harm are described in the documents.

A Department of Immigration and Border Protection spokesman said: “It’s important to note many of these incident reports reflect unconfirmed allegations.” (IANS)