Australia dismisses asylum seeker abuse claims

Government shifts blame back on abused detainees, declaring self-immolation and self-harm an attempt to get to Australia

Australia dismisses asylum seeker abuse claims

World Bulletin / News Desk

In response to the release of thousands of leaked documents that expose reports of sexual assault, self-harm, rape and cruelty in an Australian asylum seeker center, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has downplayed their gravity by referring to them as “hype”.

A day after The Guardian Australia published over 2,000 documents reportedly written by guards, caseworkers and teachers working at the immigration center on the island of Nauru, outlining systemic abuse, Dutton said while sexual abuse will not be tolerated “false allegations” are not uncommon.

Speaking on a Sydney radio station Thursday about “some of the hype that is out there at the moment”, Dutton said Nauruan authorities would investigate the allegations.

“But bear in mind,” he added, “some people do have a motivation to make a false complaint and we have had instances where people have self-harmed in an effort to get to Australia and I am not going to tolerate that behavior either.”

Dutton declared he is aware of “false allegations of sexual assault, because in the end people have paid money to people smugglers and they want to come to our country”.

“Some people have even gone to the extent of self-harming and people have self-immolated in an effort to get to Australia and certainly some have made false allegations in an attempt to get to Australia.”

Greens Immigration spokeswoman Senator Sarah Hanson-Young slammed Dutton’s words.

“Comments by Minister Dutton this morning that incidents involving child sexual abuse may be fabricated are abhorrent,” Hanson-Young said in a media conference in Adelaide.

“To attack a child for telling an adult -- someone they should trust -- that they’ve been abused is unthinkable,” she said.

Just over half of the reports of abuse in the documents involve children, despite children only making up around 18 percent of the population in the Nauru center during the May 2013-October 2015 period covered in the documents, according to The Guardian.

“It is unacceptable for the [Prime Minister Malcolm] Turnbull government to continue to send people to an island prison in which we know children are experiencing abuse and violence,” Hanson-Young said.

The Senator went on to call for the immediate closure of “these cruel camps” and stressed “those in need of protection must be brought to Australia.”

A statement issued by Hanson-Young’s office Thursday maintained that Dutton along with the government contractor Wilson Security, subcontracted by Transfield Services to provide security services on the offshore detention center in Nauru, “must be made accountable for cover-up of child abuse on Nauru”.

“Revelations that the government contractor Wilson Security appears to have misled the Australian parliament over a number of child abuse incidents on Nauru are extremely serious and may constitute criminal behavior,” the statement read.

Prime Minister Turnbull said Wednesday that the reports, revealed in leaked documents, were ultimately for the Nauruan government to respond to, but said Australia would provide assistance.

On Thursday, the ABC reported that the document leak has emboldened former Save the Children case workers to speak out about abuse and self-harm among detained asylum seekers on Nauru, which could lead to them being charged and jailed for two years.

Under the Australian Border Force Act, Section 42 states that an "entrusted person" can be jailed for two years for disclosing "protected information".

Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Ağustos 2016, 15:23