14 Aug 2016

NZ must do more to close Nauru detention camp - Shearer

5:41 pm on 14 August 2016

The Labour Party is urging the government to do more to close Australia's offshore detention camp for asylum seekers on Nauru.

Refugee Asylum Seekers children take part in protest on Nauru

Children of asylum seekers take part in a protest on Nauru. Photo: supplied

The Guardian last week published more than 2000 leaked incident reports detailing allegations of violence and cruelty at the offshore centre, including sexual abuse and violent assaults on children.

The release of the reports prompted the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to call on Australia and Nauru to end the immigration detention of children.

Many of the migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in the centres were transferred by Australia to Nauru more than three years ago, and have been living in very difficult conditions ever since.

It was not clear to what extent the alleged incidents were investigated either by the companies contracted by Australia to run the regional processing centre or by Nauru police.

New Zealand offered to take 150 refugees from Nauru, but the offer has not been accepted by the Australian government.

Labour foreign affairs spokesperson David Shearer told TVNZ's Q & A programme today that the handling of asylum seekers was tarnishing Australia's reputation.

"When the report came out last week it shocked us all. In many ways it reiterated what others had been saying and highlighted the fact that this policy is unsustainable - it's almost like Australia has lost its moral compass in terms of where it's going."

Mr Shearer said New Zealand should be talking to Australia about what this country could do to help close the camps.

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