Australia accuses refugees of falsely reporting sexual abuse

  • Reuters, Sydney
  • Updated: Aug 11, 2016 13:44 IST
In this 2001 file photo, refugees (on the right), gather on one side of a fence to talk to international journalists about their journey that brought them to the Island of Nauru. Human rights groups in August 2016 accused Australia of deliberately ignoring the abuse of asylum seekers being held at the remote Pacific island detention camp, in a bid to deter future refugees from trying to reach the country by boat. (AP)

Australia on Thursday accused asylum seekers held in Pacific detention camps of falsely reporting sexual assault in order to get sent to Australia, a day after a newspaper published leaked documents detailing abuse at the Nauru immigration centre.

More than 2,000 incidents, including sexual abuse, assault and attempted self-harm, were reported over two years at the Australian-funded Nauru detention centre, more than half involving children, Guardian Australia reported.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on Thursday said asylum seekers were lying about sexual abuse and repeated comments he made earlier this year that refugee advocates were encouraging detainees to self-harm and set themselves on fire.

“I have been made aware of some incidents that have reported false allegations of sexual assault, because in the end, people have paid money to people smugglers and they want to come to our country,” Dutton said in an interview on Australian radio.

Read: Abuse rife in Australian immigration centre: Report

“Some people have even gone to the extent of self-harming and people have self-immolated in an effort to get to Australia. Certainly some have made false allegations.”

Under its hardline immigration policy, asylum seekers intercepted trying to reach Australia by boat are sent for processing to Australian-funded camps on Nauru, which holds about 500 people, and on Manus island in Papua New Guinea. They are told they will never be settled in Australia.

The harsh conditions and reports of systemic child abuse at the camps have drawn wide criticism at home and abroad. Australia, however, has vowed there will be no change to the policy, which has been pursued by successive governments.

Australia says the policy is needed to stop asylum seekers dying at sea on the dangerous boat journey from Indonesia to Australia. Hundreds of people died attempting the trip in the years before the policy was put in place.

Refugee advocates said the leaked reports show the urgent need to end Australia’s offshore detention policy and that asylum seekers must be given medical and psychological support.

Read: Leaked document reveals Australia may crack down on Syrian refugees

also read

Saudi says oil price down cycle nearing end, to work with Russia to boost market
Show comments