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Just Facts: Nauru Detention Centre

By / 14 December 2012


 Where is Nauru?

Officially known as the Republic of Nauru, formerly known as Peasant Island. It is an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific. It is the world’s smallest republic with only 9,378 residents; it is the second least populated country.

Nauru was settled by Micronesian and Polynesian people, but claimed as a colony by the German Empire in the late 19th century. After WW1 it became a League of Nations mandate administered by Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. During WW2 it Nauru was occupied by Japanese troops, but after the war ended the country entered into trusteeship again, and in 1968 Nauru again gained its independence.

What does a detention centre have to do with it?

 In 2001, the President of Nauru and Australia’s then Minister of Defence the detention centre on Nauru Island was based on a Statement of Principles, establishing a detention centre that could hold up to 800 people. It was initially set up to house people rescued by the MV Tampa, with an understanding that they would leave by 2002.

A MOU was signed that year bolstering the numbers up to 1200, and budget figures were raised. Asylum seekers were to be housed in modern air-conditioned housing, but due to landowners’ requesting compensation, this did not happen. So two caps were built, “Topside” and “ State House”.

 And they are still open?

Well in 2007, Kevin Rudd, newly elected Australian Prime Minister put an immediate end to the Detention Centres. The last remaining detainees were granted residence in Australia, but in August thus year the centres have been since re-opened to process asylum seekers and refugees arriving by boat to Australia.

Protecting Asylum Seekers sounds pretty good, right?

Well there has been much criticism surrounding the re-opening. In November this year an Amnesty International team visited the camp and described it as “a human rights catastrophe… a toxic mix of uncertainty, unlawful detention and inhumane conditions.”

Has there been much media presence around this issue?

Media have not yet been able to get inside the Nauru Detention Centre, but as stated above, Amnesty International were granted admission and here is some of the stuff that they witnessed.

Where can I find out more information?

-       http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/nauru

-       http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-12-03/detainee-condemns-slaughterhouse-nauru/4404600

-       http://inside.org.au/six-days-on-nauru/



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This site is run by the Social Justice Commission of the Anglican Church.

We seek to nurture justice spirituality and imagination, and engage in advocacy in all areas of life, overcoming poverty and transforming violence.

We encourage people to think and live “justly”, and emphasise debate and action on local, national and global issues.

Although we are Anglican, our vision isn’t so much about being Anglican. It’s about living justly. Justice is about how you live your life, and being just where we are. Working together, we can all flourish.


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