Criminal Law

By Satomi Hamon


Seeking relief: Australia found guilty of torture


“Australia’s offshore processing regime fits the definition of torture under international law.”

Last night, Amnesty International released the report, ‘Island of Despair: Australia’s ‘processing of refugees’’, which holds the Australian government responsible for the deliberate and systematic torture of refugees on Nauru, and calls for its accountability under International Law.

The report was based on months of research, including interviews with over 100 people in Nauru and Australia. Some of these interviews revealed that many detainees considered their time on Nauru as more difficult than the conflicts they had fled from.

“I cannot go back. But here I am dying a thousand times,” said an Iraqi man, identified only as Edris.

“In Iraq, you get just one bullet or a bomb, and it’s over, and here I am slowly dying from the pain.”

Among other detainees interviewed was a Pakistani man who tried to kill himself twice in ten weeks, once by dousing himself in petrol and once by drinking dishwashing liquid; an Iranian man who found his pregnant wife in the bathroom with rope marks on her neck; and a thirteen-year-old Afghan boy who had attempted to commit suicide multiple times, including by knife, petrol and by drowning.

“I met children as young as nine who had already tried to kill themselves and were talking openly about ending their lives,” said Anna Keistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research, who spent six days on Nauru in August.

“Their parents were talking about hiding everything, sharp objects, pills, and not allowing them to leave the house, because they were so worried their children would end their lives.”

Keistat claims, “The government of Australia has isolated vulnerable women, men and children in a remote place which they cannot leave, with the specific intention that these people should suffer. And suffer they have – it has been devastating and in some cases, irreparable.”

Amnesty International has urged the Australian Government to show leadership and adopt a better plan for refugees.