Australia using Nauru as 'open-air prison'

Australia is using the island of Nauru as an "open-air prison," putting refugees and asylum seekers through an abusive processing system as a means to prevent immigration, according to a report (PDF) released by Amnesty International Oct. 17. The report charges that Australia has ignored the 1951 Refugee Convention (PDF) by subjecting asylum seekers and refugees to "egregious abuses," essentially trapping them on the remote island. The report includes dozens of interviews with refugees, documenting claims of mental health issues, suicide attempts and attacks at the hands of Nauru citizens. It describes inadequate and often "deeply humiliating and traumatizing" medical treatment, and abuses carried out against children, including physical abuse from staff contracted by Australia, and the denial of their right to education. The report calls upon the Australian government to ensure the safety and well-being of refugees, and increase access to existing migration programs.

From Jurist, Oct. 17. Used with permission.

Note: In August, Australia agreed to close its Manus Island detention facility following a court ruling by Papua New Guinea.

Australia agrees to settlement in Manus Island suit

Australia's Minister of Immigration and Border Protection on June 14 announced  a $90 million settlement in the Manus Island class action lawsuit. The settlement includes $70 million (USD $52.75 million) to be paid to the plaintiffs and $20 million in legal costs. Australia still refutes the claims in the lawsuit and states that the settlement is not an admission of guilt. Instead, it states that the settlement is required under Australia's Legal Services Directions, which instructs to "endeavour to avoid, prevent or limit the scope of legal proceedings." The settlement must still be approved by the Supreme Court of Victoria.The class action suit involved more than 1,900 detainees at Australia's offshore asylum seeker detention center. The refugees were at the center between 2012 and 2016. As of April of this year, 821 people are still being detained on Manus Island. It is believed that this settlement opens the possibility for more class action lawsuits, including from asylum seekers being held on Nauru. (Jurist)