Child rights organisation Plan International Australia has renewed calls to the Coalition Government to immediately release all children held in detention, following the release of leaked reports outlining abuse of children held on Nauru.
“Like so many Australians we are again waking up to shocking news of torture and abuse of children in our care on Nauru and wondering how our Government can sanction this flagrant abuse of human rights. No child belongs in prison,” Plan International Australia Acting CEO Dave Husy says.
“We are extremely concerned for the well-being of the 49 very vulnerable children who are currently held on Nauru. It is clear that their ongoing detention is in breach of international human rights obligations.”*
More than half of the 2,116 reports revealed by the Guardian today involve children, although children made up only about 18 per cent of those in detention on Nauru during the time covered by the reports, May 2013 to October 2015.
In line with Article 31 of the Refugee Convention, detention of asylum-seekers should always only be used as a last resort and for as short a time as possible.
“We want a commitment from the Coalition to never detain children during the process of determining their legal status. We remind the government that Australia is a signatory to the UN’s Convention against Torture. That means we have made a commitment that cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment is never justified under any circumstances.
“Rather than using vulnerable children as a deterrent to those seeking asylum, there should be a bipartisan approach to developing workable sustainable regional protection solutions, including increasing our humanitarian intake significantly.”
Mr Husy added that the upcoming United Nations Summit on Refugees and Migrants on 19 September is an opportune time for the Government to commit to releasing children in detention.
“We have long said that detention centres are no place for a child. We are locking up children, some of whom are not even accompanied by their parents or families, and that’s something Australia ought to be ashamed of.
“These children have done nothing wrong. They have become innocent victims and are paying the highest price imaginable for political gain. We have to consider the welfare of the children before the politics of immigration detention.”
Mr Husy also renewed Plan International Australia’s call for an independent monitor for children in detention.
* 48 children were held on Nauru as of 30 June 2016.