26 Sep 2013

Advocate renews call for 'hellish' Nauru detention camps to be closed

4:50 pm on 26 September 2013

An advocate for the hundreds of asylum seekers incarcerated in three Australian run camps on Nauru says the camps there have become a hell-hole that should be closed.

The spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul, told Don Wiseman the camps are unfit for anyone, let alone families and children.

IAN RINTOUL: I think it's fair to say that the situation just keeps deteriorating. In the replacement camp - RP2 as it's called - you've still got only 6 toilets for over 360 people. That's been catastrophic. A little while ago they had the food poisoning and there was mass diarrhoea as a consequence of that. It's not very much better now, even though the diarrhoea has subsided. But you can imagine with 6 toilets for 350 people, there's no running water, there's limited water. When they do have a shower, which is sometimes only possible every second day, it's strictly timed at four minutes. So, yeah, the situation is pretty bad. For the family camp it's similar. I'm not sure how many toilets are there. We understand there's also no running water, there's no playground or any kind of recreation facilities for the kids, there's no adequate health care inside the detention centre itself. It's in a particularly hot part of the island, and you can imagine a particularly hot part of Nauru, how hot and humid it is.

DON WISEMAN: Most of the camp got destroyed or a large part of the camp got destroyed in that riot back in July. Where are these people living now? Are they living in tents or have those buildings all been rebuilt?

IR: Everyone on Nauru now is accommodated in a tent. The family compound is entirely white marquees. The other - RPC2, the people who were in the compound that was burnt down - they're literally in army tents and there's a separated area for the people who have been charged. So everybody is in tents. They are rebuilding the one that was burnt down and we are expecting that by the end of the year they'll probably try to move more people into the accommodation blocks in the original detention centre.

DW: You say there's an urgent need for human rights oversight there.

IR: Yes, the situation has got tremendously complicated. I think the fact that Nauru is out of sight and out of mind. We've now got an australian government that is systematically trying to deny information to the media and to the public. It was always difficult off Nauru. It's that much more difficult now. There's no internet connection. The phone connections are extremely restricted for the people that are in detention. There's very little information coming off. What information does come off remains alarming. The situation with the Nauruan guards, in particular, there have been a number of reported beatings of asylum seekers and very harsh treatment at their hands. There are people who are supposedly being processed by the Nauruan government, yet there's been no indication whatsoever of the results of that assessment. We're no closer to there being any transparent arrangements about processing and resettlement on Nauru than we were before and every reason to believe that's going to get worse. I think without some independent oversight there will be no way of actually knowing, no accountability, no transparency of how people are actually being treated on Nauru.