Critical Analytical Note

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Human Rights violation in NAURU: Refugee!

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Nauru files are the largest set of leaked documents published from inside Australia’s immigration detention system. There are more than 2000 incident reports from the Nauru detention centre, written by guards, caseworkers and teachers who were working in the remote Pacific island of Nauru. They wrote extensively about every such reportable incident on the detention facility. Events that find mention include attempts of self-harm, sexual assaults, hunger strikes, abuse of children etc.

Australia, like many other countries of the world, has privatized its immigration detention centres.  However, there is a major difference between other countries and Australia. Australia has its detention centres offshore i.e. it has exported its detention centers to the neighboring countries like Nauru and Manus Island in Papa New Guinea. Any person who arrives by boat and seeks asylum, is automatically sent to any of these two facilities and is told that he/she will never be allowed to entry in Australia. This policy is meant to deter smugglers by stopping the boats.

What is this report? It is a short summary of events written by the staff from a number of private companies that happen to hold some or the other contract in the Nauru detention centre. These summary reports may range from some mundane incidents like children falling while playing football to the threats of self-harm. These reports have to be mandatorily written by the staff as a part of the contractual requirement set down by the Australian Government in order to keep records of what is happening in the detention center.

When is an incident reportable? Incidents are supposed to be reported when they fall into any one of the categories set out in the contract agreement between the private company and the immigration department of Australia. These reports are divided into three categories: critical, major and minor.

Critical incidents must be reported verbally within 30 minutes and in writing within 3 hours. Major reports must be reported verbally within an hour and in writing in 6 hours. Minor reports don’t require a verbal report, but a written report may be filled within 24 hours. 

But are these reports made by the private companies’ staff to be trusted? How accurate are they? The companies that manage these detention centers have poor data handling process. Some incidents have been deliberately downgraded in their seriousness. Some of the ways in which the reports have been categorized have varied over time, raising further question on these reports credibility. Further inconsistency between accounts of staff and reported incidents is quite stark.

With the repeated abuse at the hands of Nauru’s controllers, refugee rights advocates are demanding a Royal Commission that should look into the abuse of asylum seekers.

The leak of these reports have led to many in the far-left and refugee advocates to warn about implications of such policies of turning back the boat. Many worry that if such policy is adopted in Europe, it will lead to Europe losing its status of champion of Human Rights. The point is that this report is just another addition to various anti-refugee policies being adopted and if continued, such policies will lead to serious violation of Human Rights.

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