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Pacific News Minute: Australian Senate Committee Says Nauru Migrant Center "Unsafe"

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A six month investigation by an Australian Senate Committee finds that conditions at the migrant detention center on the Pacific Island Nation of Nauru are not safe.  A report calls for all children to be removed as soon as possible, and as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, that's just one of fifteen recommendations.

A full investigation into allegations of sexual abuse and other crimes… all complaints against staff to be handled by Australia's immigration ombudsman.  Speedier processing of refugee claims, security reduced for nearly all asylum seekers, proper access for the Australian Human Rights Commission and the news media, and as noted, removal of all children with their families as soon as possible.

What the Australian government calls “Regional Processing Centers” have been controversial since they were established….one in Nauru, the other on Manus an island in Papua New Guinea…but especially after the numbers of people trying to reach Australia by sea surged in 2012 and 2013.  Dozens died in the attempt, and the conservative government got support from the opposition to adopt tough measures.  Now, everyone who arrives is sent to Nauru or Manus, and those found to be legitimate refugees are offered resettlement in Nauru, Papua New Guinea or Cambodia.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton denounced the report as a political witch hunt by a committee dominated by Labor and Green Party senators. "We need to recognize" he said, "that regional processing is there because we are not going to allow these people to come to Australia”.  Next month, Australia's highest court will hear a case that challenges the constitutionality of the offshore detention centers.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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