Death on Nauru prompts calls from lawyers for urgent government action

15th Jun 2018

Urgent government action is needed following the tragic death of an asylum seeker in Nauru today, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“There has been a constant refusal by the government to indicate when it will close Nauru,” said Greg Barns, spokesperson for the ALA. “It is an unsafe and inhumane environment.

“The healthcare needs of detainees are acute and particularly so when it comes to mental health. 

“The constant failure to provide a proper standard of healthcare is a breach of the duty of care owed to detainees on Nauru as is the consistent refusal of the Australian government, unless ordered by courts, to allow detainees to come to Australia to receive proper health care.

“This urgent situation needs to be resolved immediately, in line with work health and safety and international law, not to mention basic human decency.

“When a person is in custody, whether it be in a prison environment or immigration detention, there is an assumption that the entity detaining that person will take reasonable care for their safety.  

“Under the Work Health and Safety Act, the government has a clear obligation not to put refugees at risk. The Federal Court has found that the government owes them a duty of care.

Today’s death follows the death by suicide of Salim, a Rohingya man, on Manus Island in May.

“Let’s not forget, these people have only asked Australia for help when they were being persecuted at home. They have committed no crime.

“Our off-shore processing and detention regime is cruel and inhumane,” said Mr Barns. “There are countless stories of violence, sexual abuse of children and medical neglect leading to death and self-harm.

“These people are Australia’s responsibility. They deserve certainty and an opportunity to rebuild their lives.”

Tags: Human rights Asylum seekers and refugees