Nauru allegations should be included in child sex abuse royal commission, human rights groups say
A child in detention on Nauru draws an asylum seeker behind bars contrasted by smiling Australians. (Supplied)
Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse to widen its inquiry to
include alleged abuse of asylum seekers on Nauru.
- Three groups wrote to commission chairman last year about including Nauru claims
- Thousand of Nauru abuse allegations were published this week
- Human Rights Commission president supports proposal
Three non-government organisations have revealed they
sent legal advice to the commission that it could examine incidents of
abuse at the detention centre.
“In a nutshell, the advice says
that while the royal commission can’t obviously go to Nauru and exercise
coercive powers on Nauru, it can look at the response of the Australian
Government and its contractors to child sexual abuse that occurred on
Australia’s detention centre on Nauru,” Hugh de Kretser from the Human
Rights Law Centre said.
“There has to be a connection to Australia
— that connection is established by the level of control, financing and
involvement that Australia and its contractors have over the
institution that we have set up as a detention centre on Nauru.”
Human Rights Law Centre, the Council for International Development, and
the Australian Council of Social Service sent legal advice on the
matter to the chairman of the royal commission Justice Peter McClellan
in July last year.
Mr de Kretser said the move was being revealed today in the wake of The Guardian publishing thousands of files detailing allegations of abuse on Nauru.
taken the step to make this advice public on the back of the widespread
evidence of ongoing harm to innocent people, including children, that
was revealed this week through the leaked files — the over 2,000
incident reports showing ongoing child abuse, ongoing sexual abuse,
ongoing harm self-harm suicide, assaults and injuries,” he said.
got a situation where the royal commission is doing fantastic work in
Australia to prevent child sexual abuse — at the very same time the
Australian Government is warehousing kids offshore in conditions where
that abuse thrives.
“It has to stop.”
Marc Purcell from the Council for International Development urged the commission to accept the legal advice.
“There is Commonwealth responsibility for the harm being caused to people on Nauru and children,” he said.
would be problematic and indeed seem strange to the average member of
the public if the royal commission, which is looking at historical
examples of abuse — some that have come right up into the 2000s, did not
consider these very, very recent examples over the last three years of
how the Commonwealth as an institution has sought to respond and indeed
deal with harm that has come to children under their care in the Nauruan
Human Rights Commission backs move
Gillian Triggs, the president of the Human Rights Commission, told Radio National the royal commission should be extended.
think that a royal commission could investigate, in my view, matters
for which Australia … have managed and paid for the entire process,” she
“It is not good enough to say that this is for another sovereign nation.”
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told 7.30
on Thursday that it was up to Nauru to investigate the cases revealed by
“Nauru is not part of Australia so this is an issue for the Nauruan Government,” he said.
pressed on the point Australia was paying $1.2 million a year to run
the facilities, Mr Dutton said: “This Labor legacy is going to last
along time. We are not going to clean up this mess that Labor created
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