Nauru refugees freed on bail
Nauru police release protesting refugees from custody after charging them with unlawful assembly.
Nauru police say that 183 refugees arrested after protests on Wednesday were released from custody last night and are on bail.
They have also denied claims by the refugees and their supporters that children were included among the arrested.
The second in command in the Nauru police, superintendent Calinda Blake, has also clarified under what conditions the refugees will be allowed to protest in future.
Don Wiseman spoke with her about the issues arising from this week's confrontations and began by asking what charges the refugees are facing.
CALINDA BLAKE: Unlawful Assembly.
DON WISEMAN: And the unlawful assembly was standing in the road rather than on the side of the road?
CB: Yes and actually causing fear to the neighbouring homes.
DW: How were they causing fear?
CB The ingredients for unlawful assembly is when anybody around or the public place has fear, then you can be charged for unlawful assembly.
DW: What was it about their behaviour though that was causing this fear?
CB: Throwing of rocks, shouting.
DW: They were throwing rocks at what?
CB: At police. Standing on the road throwing rocks and stones towards the road which is a public place. They were holding up traffic because the whole road was closed that day.
DW: So does this mean that you are going to fall back on this, somewhat convenient law you have that if people feel fear you can break up groups or arrest them.
DW: Will the refugees will they be able to protest in and around public places in Nauru?
CB: Yes they will be given, they can protest in public places in Nauru if they follow the procedures that were given to them by Police when we give them the opportunity for them to listen to police on the guidelines on how to go about protests should and when they want to. But they chose not to listen to Police and walked away. These are the guidelines that. Those are the guidelines that they need to follow, everybody, everybody here on Nauru.
DW: Just tell me specifically what they are?
CB: They just need to put it in writing where they intend to hold their, the protest, at what time and the number of people. So that police can do as part of the police duties to crowd, to do crowd control. So that we are able to do crowd control as in the access in and out of people. And the traffic going up and down, the flow of traffic where and in what time and the date and the amount of people.
DW: And if they are shouting are you going to arrest them? Because you said earlier that one of the, one of the aspects of this raising of fear and therefore the justification of the arrests was apart from the throwing stones was that they were shouting. So you don't have much of a protest is there is no shouting do you?
CB: They can shout, you can shout, but throwing of stones, you know covering of faces and throwing stones at police that becomes fear and then people have will fear.
DW: There have been a number of accusations made by the Refugees and the asylum seekers about violent incidents going back a number of months now. What have police done for instance about the chap who had his eye badly damaged?
CB: Those cases are under investigation. The Nauru police force treat everyone on Nauru the same whether they are refugees, Nauruans any other race if they put a formal complaint to police, police will act on that complaint. But as I said if we do not receive any complaints from them, formal complaints, walking into the police station giving their complaints there will be no complaints so we won't investigate any cases that are not put formally through police reception.
DW: Yes I am sure that is not the way it is always done. If someone is severely hurt, if they need hospital treatment, then surely police react immediately at that point?
CB: Yes if we are talking about those incidents then they are, they have been investigated by police.
DW: They have been investigated have arrests been made charges been brought?
CB: Yes every cases that come in we cannot do any charges unless we arrest so we have arrested for those incidents.
DW: Someone has been arrested in regard to the man who lost his eye?
DW: What is the charge they face?
CB: I will have to get back to you with that one from the investigation.
DW: These people charged with unlawful assembly, they will go to court when?
CB: They have been through the court and the cases are now with the court.
DW: It was treated as one case?
CB: No, they have been charged individually. Because there are other charge, other refugees that have other charges not just unlawful assembly.
DW: What are those other charges?
CB: Some members within the group have charges of serious assault, assaulting of police, damaging property, damaging of police vehicles and obstruction, obstructing police in the execution of their duties.
DW: How many people are facing those sorts of charges?
CB: They are, it is still under investigation.
DW: We have been told by the refugees that there were children who are among the arrested. Were there children among the arrested?
CB: No there was no children arrested.
DW: Well there was a 13-year-old arrested because your government told us that last night.
CB: That was a separate incident that 13-year old was arrested with an arrest warrant issued by the court for serious assault he assaulted. He threw a rock at a police officer.
DW: Did he hit the policeman?
DW: It would appear that there is growing animosity between the people on the island and the refugees and asylum seekers. What are police able to do about that animosity?
CB: Well we have actually messaged the Nauruans and we have actually messaged the Nauruans to leave the refugees and the asylum seekers be and police will look into their cases.
DW: To what extent are police concerned about those about that tension?
CB: Well the police, that is why we had to speak to the locals because the locals tension is growing and we have to just have to keep that low
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