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Australian churches renew call to end refugee detention on Nauru

Posted on: August 16, 2016 2:15 PM
Accommodation in Australia's offshore processing facility for asylum seekers in Nauru.
Photo Credit: Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection
Related Categories: asylum, Australia, refugees & migrants

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] An ecumenical group of churches has renewed its call for Australia’s refugee detention centre on Nauru to close after revelations of sustained abuse – including the alleged cover-up of a rape. The Guardian newspaper last week published a swathe of official documents that detail years of abuse at the centre. The Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, described the revelations as “shocking” and “saddening”.

Now, the country’s Churches’ Refugee Taskforce has accused the government of completely ignoring the allegations. “They were a horrific red flag to the scale of abuse and the Government did nothing,” the taskforce’s executive director, Misha Coleman, said.

The Nauru Files, as the documents published by the Guardian have been called, corroborate previous allegations submitted to the Government as far back as 2014, she said. “The Government knew. It then did nothing to prevent the ongoing daily acts of abuse committed on children and women especially.

“The letters detailed a range of abuse cases including a rape and an alleged cover-up of that rape – it’s clear from the files . . . that the situation has sunk to unholy depths.”

The taskforce is calling for an independent investigation by a Royal Commission to examine what it calls “the systemic and gross abuse occurring every day in these camps funded by Australian taxpayers.”

The Dean of St John’s Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane, the Very Revd Dr Peter Catt, chairs the taskforce. He said: “We had called for a Royal Commission into the offshore camps after some of the key issues raised in the report were referred back to the Nauruan police, in which we have no confidence whatsoever.

“Today however, we’re calling on the Australian Government to immediately bring these innocent people from Nauru, here to Australia, and then to immediately establish a Royal Commission into these sorry offshore detention camps.

“In the same way that the Government reacted swiftly and correctly to the expose of the abuse at Don Dale Detention Centre, we call on the Government to react swiftly and bring people here to Australia, out of harm's way.”