Since when did it become a societal norm to imprison innocent children?
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How can we ignore these gross violations of human rights?
The immigration detention centre located on Nauru Island is becoming internationally recognized as one of the most inhumane centres in the world. Yet the Australian immigration department refuses to acknowledge the extent of the detrimental effects that the treatment in the centre has on the detainees. Even while there is extensive evidence that substantiates the case.
Due to the lack of adequate medical care provided at Nauru, pregnant mothers and children have been transferred to Australia to receive the medical attention that they not only require, but are entitled to. As article 25 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services."
However, Australia’s immigration minister Peter Dutton has pledged to “deport 72 children back to Nauru”.
Babies born in Australia to women moved from offshore detention are regarded by the department as “illegal maritime arrivals” to the country, despite having never been on a boat nor having left Australia.
There are currently 79 children being held in onshore detention, dreading their transportation back to the island, yet their cries for help are going unheard. In 2015, an investigation, labelled as a ‘hype’ by Dutton, was undertaken exploring the goings on the island. This ‘hype’ revealed numerous horrific abuse, assault and self-harm allegations. In the files, there are seven reports of sexual assault of children, 59 reports of assault on children, 30 of self-harm involving children and 159 of threatened self-harm involving children.
In one case, A refugee reported to a caseworker that her brother, a child under 18, had “self-harmed by burning his arms with cigarettes and cutting his wrist with a knife”. There had been between five and seven episodes of self-harm, she told the caseworker.
The Australian government must not allow children under Australia’s care, to be sent back to this harrowing place.
If the children are deported back to the island there is no way to ensure their safety, especially considering the previous allegations and recorded mistreatment in the centre.
Ultimately, the safety of these children is the overall responsibility of the Australian Government. By sending children back to Nauru the government is disregarding this responsibility.
Finally, to the Right and honourable Peter Dutton,
Do not compromise these children’s safety. Do not allow the children to be sent back to Nauru.
Gordon, M 2016, ‘Peter Dutton vows children released from detention are still bound for Nauru’, Sydney Morning Herald, 4 April, accessed 22 March 2017, <http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/peter-dutton-vows-children-released-from-detention-are-still-bound-for-nauru-20160404-gnxklk.html>
About Children's Rights n.d., Humanrights, accessed 22 March 2017, <https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/childrens-rights/about-childrens-rights>
Gordon, M 2016, ‘'Now we have a home': Babies bound for Nauru taste freedom in the suburbs’, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 April, accessed 27 March 2017, <http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/now-we-have-a-home-babies-bound-for-nauru-taste-freedom-in-the-suburbs-20160331-gnvnsp.html>
Government to transfer 72 asylum seeker children back to Nauru 2016, radio program, ABC Radio National, 20 January.
Butler, J 2016, ‘UN 'Urges' Australia Not To Send Children To Nauru’, The Huffington Post, 4 February, accessed 27 March 2017, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/02/03/un-australia-nauru_n_9154630.html>
‘Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru’ 2016, Amnesty, 2 April, accessed 27 March 2017, <https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/08/australia-abuse-neglect-of-refugees-on-nauru/>
‘Nauru move would shift responsibility to under-resourced neighbour’ 2016, UNICEF, 3 February, accessed 27 March 2017, <https://www.unicef.org.au/blog/news-and-insights/february-2016/nauru-move-shifts-responsibility>
G Coffey, Submission No 213 to the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014, p 6. At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/asylum-seekers-and-refugees/national-inquiry-children-immigration-detention-2014-0 (viewed 21 August 2014).
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Submission No104 to the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014. At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/asylum-seekers-and-refugees/national-inquiry-children-immigration-detention-2014-0
The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention (2014) 2014, Humanrights, accessed 30 March 2017, <https://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/forgotten-children-national-inquiry-children-immigration-detention-2014/6-mothers-and>
‘Nauru refugee critical after caesarean to deliver premature baby son, flown to Brisbane’ 2016, ABC, 13 May, accessed 30 March 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-13/naura-refugee-newborn-son-airlifted-to-brisbane-hospital/7411796>
Mark, D 2016, ‘Nauru conditions 'cruel' and 'inhumane', children traumatised: former teacher’, ABC, 4 February, accessed 30 March 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-04/nauru-conditions-cruel-and-inhumane-former-teacher-says/7140484>
Doherty, B 2017, ‘Immigration Minister says he will deport 72 asylum seeker children to Nauru.’, The Guardian, 2 February, accessed 30 March 2017, <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/02/nauru-overrules-australia-over-decision-to-transfer-sick-pregnant-refugee>
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