|Published : 18 Oct 2016, 20:51:55|
Turnbull rejects reports of rights abuses on Nauru
SYDNEY, Oct 18 (BBC): Australia has rejected a claim by rights group Amnesty International that conditions on a tiny South Pacific island where about 400 Australian-bound asylum seekers are held "amount to torture".
Under Australia's tough immigration policy, asylum seekers intercepted trying to reach the country by boat are sent for processing at a camp in Nauru or to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and are not eligible for resettlement in Australia.
Many asylum seekers on Nauru are being driven to attempt suicide to escape the prison-like conditions they face in indefinite detention, Amnesty alleged in a detailed report.
"I reject that claim totally. It is absolutely false," Malcolm Turnbull, the prime minister, told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio on Tuesday of the torture claim.
"The Australian government's commitment is compassionate and strong."
The detention was a "systematic regime of neglect and cruelty," said Amnesty, adding that its findings were based on both desk research and field work in Nauru between July and October.
"The conditions on Nauru - refugees' severe mental anguish, the intentional nature of the system, and the fact that the goal of offshore processing is to intimidate or coerce people to achieve a specific outcome - amounts to torture," it added.
The Nauru government did not respond directly to the Amnesty report but criticised an ABC TV story that made similar allegations and quoted children on Nauru, where refugees are mainly from Iran and Afghanistan.