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Pacific News Minute: Nauru Files Document Violence, Sexual Assault, & Self-Harm in Australian Camp

wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

This week, the Guardian published two thousand documents from inside Australia's detention camp in Nauru.  The leaks detail the assaults, sexual abuse and self-harm suffered by asylum seekers, most held in prison- like conditions for more than three years.  As we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, a disproportional number of victims, were children.

More than half of the incident reports involve children, though they made up just 18% of the detainee population in the period covered by the leaked reports.  In September 2014, a teacher reported that a young assistant had requested a four-minute shower, double the usual time.  A request granted by a male security officer on condition that he could watch.  That same month, a girl sewed her lips together.  A guard saw her and laughed.  Another guard put his hand into a boys shorts during a car ride...the boy's father pulled him away, but said nothing.

The incident reports were written by staff in the detention center...caseworkers, guards, teachers and medical officers.  In a response to the Guardian’s story, Australia's Department for Immigration and Border Protection said the documents showed "the rigorous reporting procedures that are in place."  Immigration Minister Peter Dutton maintained that most of these incidents had been reported on before.  Many, but hardly all, according to human rights groups...and Dutton blamed some of the violence, on asylum seekers themselves "Some people have been gone to the extent of self-harming and people have self-immolated in an effort to get to Australia," Dutton said, "and certainly some have made false allegations in an attempt to get to Australia."

A recent report by Amnesty International and Human rights watch concluded that Australia deliberately maintains harsh conditions in its detention camps, as part of its campaign to deter migrants coming in boats.

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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