Australia to probe abuse claims in Nauru camps
Australia will probe abuse claims at its Nauru asylum seeker detention centre, says stories are fabricated.
The Australian government has accused the charity, Save The Children, of fabricating stories about abuse at Canberra's detention centre on Nauru.
This comes only days after the opposition demanded an investigation into claims of sexual exploitation of women and children at the Nauru camp.
The Australian policy of processing asylum seekers abroad has been dogged by controversy, with riots and incidents of self-harm.
The immigration minister, Scott Morrison, says the claims of abuse in Nauru will be investigated.
SCOTT MORRISON: Allegations of the abuse and misconduct are serious and they need to be addressed and action taken where ever necessary. And that will be the government's response working together with the government of Nauru. Equally the government must have confidence that service providers act with professionalism in accordance with their contractual obligations. They are employed to do a job, not to be political activists. Making false claims and worse allegedly coaching self harm and using children in protests is also completely unacceptable, whatever their political view or whatever their agendas.
Today I announce that the Acting Secretary for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has commissioned Mr Philip Moss to conduct an independent investigation into all of these matters. Mr Moss is formally as you know the Integrity Commissioner and former head of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. He has served the Australian government's law enforcement integrity communities with distinction since July 2007 when he was appointed to the inaugural role of Integrity Commissioner. Mr Moss will be asked to assess the accuracy of the allegations and to determine exactly what the facts are in all of these cases. To ensure that those facts are available to any authorities for any action that would take place as a result. And to provide the Department with recommendations to strengthen relevant arrangements relating to the provision of services at the Centre and the conduct of service providers and staff at Nauru.
The Greens senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, responded to the minister's news conference.
SARAH HANSON YOUNG: Rumours of abuse of women inside the detention centre, forcing mothers and girls to perform sexual acts in exchange for access to showers and amenities, are extremely serious. Accusations that children have been involved in abuse inside the detention centre, and that trading of cigarettes and marijuana inside the detention centre must be investigated.
I am pleased to see the Minister today act on these serious allegations and establish and investigation and inquiry.
What I am concerned about is that the Minister seems to be pre judging the investigation before it has even started. This is a Minister who blames the victim, shoots the messenger and then drops it all to his favourite home town paper. And that's not how a Minister who is taking these allegations seriously should be acting. I am concerned at the reports today in relation to Save the Children. Save the Children do amazing work, not just here in Australia and around the world, but particularly in the harsh and awful conditions inside the Nauru detention centre. I don't want to see a situation where because the Minister is under heat, he decides to distract from the fact that there have been serious allegations made against security staff, in the detention centre, paid for contracts signed by the Minister's Department.
The inquiry into the abuse claims will be led by a former integrity commissioner Philip Moss.
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