Govt should do more for Nauru asylum seekers - Amnesty NZ

  • 11/08/2016

Amnesty International is calling out the Australian government on abuse of asylum seekers in the detention centre on Nauru.

More than 2000 documents have been leaked by The Guardian which detail frightful conditions on the Pacific Island.

Executive director of Amnesty International New Zealand Grant Bayldon says in situations like Nauru, there's a high risk of abuse.

"The Australian government has deliberately set up their operation in Nauru under a cloud of secrecy. They've prevented people from talking about what's going on, they've prevented people from getting into Nauru to lift the lid."

Mr Bayldon says the New Zealand Government has a responsibility to speak out about the reported abuse.

"What we are seeing is one of the most sustained assaults on human rights of any western democratic country.

"As New Zealand is the closest country to it, the New Zealand Government should all the more so call out Australia on its treatment."

He says one way it could do that is to repeat the offer to resettle people from the detention centre in Nauru.

"When New Zealand reviewed its own refugee quota, one of the excuses it gave for not doubling it here was to leave spaces for if there is an emergency.

"This is an emergency situation and the New Zealand Government needs to speak out strongly."

Mr Bayldon adds the Government speaks out about human rights abuse in other countries - so Australia shouldn't be treated any differently.

He also notes the island is an emergency state, something else that needs to be addressed as fast as possible.

Earlier this month, Amnesty International and Humans Right's Watch representatives travelled to the island nation where they claim attacks are happening daily.

They interviewed 84 refugees and asylum seekers from Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Kuwait, and Afghanistan over 12 days.

The human rights groups said refugees and asylum seekers, most of whom have been held there for three years, are routinely neglected by health workers and other service providers, as well as being assaulted by local Nauruans.

Nauru is home to around 1200 men, women, and children who sought refuge in Australia and were transferred to the remote Pacific island nation of Nauru.