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Royal Commission must consider Nauru child abuse - Refugee Council 31 August 2015

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Nauru Senate Inquiry: Royal Commission must consider Nauru child abuse

Media Release 

31 August 2015. As the Senate inquiry report into the shocking allegations of child sexual abuse on Nauru are delivered, the Refugee Council of Australia has supported the call for full independent oversight and believes the Royal Commission is the suitable body to investigate. 

The Nauru Senate inquiry  uncovered more than 67 cases of child abuse that occurred on Nauru, including 30 cases against Australian staff. Not one conviction has been recorded for these abuses.

Paul Power, CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia, said, “The lack of any independent oversight and the incapacity of the Nauruan Police Force to investigate, compounded by the deteriorating legal and political situation in Nauru, render the place unfit for the care and protection of very vulnerable people.

“Innocent women and children have been raped and sexually abused and the Australian taxpayer is funding this horrendous abuse occurring. It must stop.

Despite the evidence presented in recent investigations, the dissenting report from Liberal senators suggest that the allegations are ‘unsubstantiated hearsay’. It’s time we had a full independent investigation so these allegations can be tested. 

“It’s time to we had a full independent inquiry into the detention arrangements in Nauru, where the Government’s own Moss Report, the Australian Human Rights Commission Forgotten Children report and this new Senate report clearly show the safety of children and women cannot be guaranteed.”

The senate inquiry reported in relation to child abuse:

“At the most serious end of the spectrum, in response to queries from the committee, principal contracted service provider Transfield Services reported that 30 formal allegations of child abuse had been made against RPC staff, 15 allegations of sexual assault or rape, and four allegations relating to the exchange of sexual favours for contraband.

“Of the 30 child abuse allegations, 24 involved alleged physical contact, two related to sexual assault, and single allegations were made of sexual harassment, inappropriate relationship with a minor, excessive use of force, and verbal abuse. As a result of these, six employees had been dismissed, two removed from the RPC site and one employee was suspended. Wilson Security provided details of eleven cases in which staff were terminated for misconduct including inappropriate relationships, alleged sexual assault, sexual harassment, excessive use of force toward an asylum seeker, trading in contraband including for sexual favours, and throwing a rock at an asylum seeker”[i]

Mr Power said in response, “Staff who have serious allegations of child abuse against them are moved on, transferred or dismissed and are not subject to the full force of the law.

“There is currently a Royal Commission ongoing into institutional child sexual abuse and it appears that on Nauru the Australian contracting companies are acting in the same manner as the institutions under question in this same Royal Commission. We urge the Royal Commission, under Commissioner McClelland, to review abuse in the immigration detention system as part of his inquiry.”

More information Tim O’Connor 0431 147 366

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