Lawyers call for children to be freed from Nauru: ‘Australia is responsible for their health & wellbeing’

22nd Aug 2018

Australia has a legal and moral obligation to free and resettle the children in detention on Nauru, say lawyers. 

“The Australian government has a non-delegable duty of care to asylum seekers and we know that offshore detention is a profoundly negative environment for children,” said Noor Blumer, National President, Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA). 

“The children on Nauru are living in an unsafe and inhumane environment without sufficient access to health care and education and without any certainty for the future.

“Detaining children on Nauru shows no decency or compassion and, in addition, Australia could be held legally responsible for any abuse or physical or mental deterioration of these children if it can be shown that the abuse occurred while they were in detention.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance is supporting the #KidsOffNauru campaign, organised by World Vision, which is calling on the government to free the 119 children currently being detained on Nauru before Universal Children’s Day.

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

 “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.

“Our off-shore processing and detention regime is cruel and inhumane. There are countless stories of children witnessing violence, the sexual abuse of children and medical neglect.

“Let’s not forget, these children and their parents have only asked Australia for help when they were being persecuted at home. They have committed no crime. These children deserve certainty and the opportunity to enjoy a normal childhood.”