Australia: Nauru’s detained children must be given true freedom

Responding to the Australian government’s announcement that it will remove all children from its offshore detention centre on Nauru within two months, Charmain Mohammed, Head of Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International, said:

“This announcement represents a long overdue acknowledgment by the Australian government that its brutal offshore detention policy has failed. It will take a long time to repair the damage that has been done to these children, some of whom were born in detention and have spent their formative years surrounded by guards, steel fences and catastrophic suffering.

“We are encouraged that politicians are finally starting to listen to the Australian people, many of whom have expressed disgust at the situation on Nauru. However, many questions remain about the future of these children and their families. It is imperative that moving them off Nauru does not lead to further detention in Australia, and we are calling on the Australian government to commit to their full integration into society, including by providing the mental health care they so desperately need. 

“We are also concerned that this announcement could lead to family separations, if the Australian government does not also take steps to free all adults from detention in Nauru. The health crisis in Australia’s offshore detention centres gets worse with every day that passes. Suicide and self-harm are rife and many adults are at breaking point. Until Australia moves every single refugee and asylum seeker out of detention on Nauru and Manus Island, lives will continue to be in danger.”