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Conditions on Manus Island and Nauru

Asylum seekers detained on Manus Island experience temperatures around 35 degrees and extreme humidity. Water is rationed to 500 ml per person per day. Amnesty International has described this treatment as tantamount to torture.

Department officials address detainees by their boat numbers rather than their names. Complaints of bullying are not investigated. Many asylum seekers arrive bare foot and are not provided with footwear (preventing them from leaving the camp for short excursions).
Detainees queue for 4 to 5 hours for toilets, meals and showers. No soap is provided and outbreaks of gasto are common. Medical staff are expected to deal with requests for around 110 appointments per day.

All detainees on Manus Island are men or teenage boys. Some of these men are gay, their reason for seeking asylum. Homosexuality is a crime in PNG and can result in a 14 year prison sentence. Although there is no requirement for mandatory reporting, immigration officials have told detainees that people engaging in homosexual acts will be reported to PNG police. The same threat has been made to detainees who allege they have been raped, hence why none of their claims have been investigated by the department.

Conditions are only slightly better on Nauru, where women and families are detained. Here detainees are kept in overcrowded pens, temperatures usually exceed 40 degrees and children as young as newborns play in the dirt. Limited schooling is provided but temperatures in excess of 50 degrees in the school tent usually prevent lessons from taking place. A number of pregnant women have been sent to Nauru, there is no hospital within the camp and limited facilities on the island.

Medical staff estimate that around 70% of detainees are suffering mental trauma (higher among children) and suicide and acts of self harm are daily occurrences on Nauru and Manus. The cost of detaining one asylum seeker on Nauru is $570,000 per year.

There are approximately 6500 people in detention on Christmas Is, Manus and Nauru, 1400 of them are children. A further 21000 asylum seekers are in Australia on some form of temporary visa. They are banned from all types of work, including voluntary work.

These bans were enforced by the Gillard government. Rudd reopened Manus Is and Nauru. The Greens have offered little more than words.

Australia is violating human rights on a scale that is criminal to ignore. We have no more moral justification for these acts than we had for our treatment of the stolen generation and other past injustices.

If this country is every going to truly grow up and be the example to others it could be, then we need to start changing our present, rather than apologising for it in the future.
The people we are treating as criminals are better than us. They saw injustice and looked for a better life. We are just looking the other way.

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