Call for Nauru government to be open about detention camps
Nauru government told it must make the public aware of what is happening with regard to the Australian asylum seekers on the island.
A former cabinet minister in Nauru says the government is continuing to keep the people in the dark about what is happening at the asylum seeker detention camps.
Mathew Batsiua, who is now in opposition, says there is little information about the camps, the processing of refugee claims and so on.
He told Don Wiseman parliament has sat just once in the past three months and little information is filtering out, but the people must be kept in the picture.
MATHEW BATSIUA: This is a very significant project that is occurring on our shores. The information that people are being told is mainly in terms of what jobs are available and things like that, but there's no information in terms of how the facilities are going, in terms of permanent facilities for the people in the centres, how the processing is progressing. Those kind of things, we don't get any information on those.
DON WISEMAN: We know that prior to the riots there were a significant number of people whose refugee status had been determined, but they hadn't been told about it. And still that's the case. They still haven't been told some four months down the line.
MB: Yes, certainly. That part of it needs to be looked at closely. We're here. What we read in the media... We are members of parliament in Nauru, we're elected officials, and we don't know how the processing of refugee claims is going. We read what is being reported in the international media and that's the extent of the information we receive.
DW: Given this change by the Australians, in mid-July there's this very real prospect that refugees will be allowed to settle on Nauru. Has that subject been talked about locally?
MB: Oh, yes. That has been the subject of much discussion. A lot of people do not support it. The government did not seek a mandate for it from the people. There is a general uneasiness with that new commitment because everybody accepts that Nauru is just not researched to take on the resettlement part of the whole thing and there hasn't been any prior consultation. Nobody knew that we were going ot be committing to this new part of the MOU where we'd actually settle refugees here on Nauru on a permanent basis. So we raised this with Minister Morrison when he came through Nauru and he's quite happy to look at it as long as our government raises it as an issue. And I hope that the president speaks to his word when he told parliament last sitting that he will raise it with the Australian government.
DW: Nauru pretty much welcomed this scheme across the board at the beginning. Is that still the feeling on the island that it's something worthwhile for Nauru to be involved in?
MB: Yeah, it is worthwhile. But we should make sure that while we're undertaking this process those people who are here under this programme, they are treated with dignity and make sure we have a process that is supported by strong laws to make sure that when the refugee determinations are being done they're being done in a matter that is fair, that is transparent according to laws that are in compliance with the United Nations Refugee Convention. That's what we've been asking for and we hope the government is doing that. But to be frank we are in the dark because the government is giving out little information. We don't have sittings of parliament regularly so we can't question. It's quite frustrating.
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