ChilOut is greatly concerned for the welfare of around 90 children, including 37 babies born in Australia, who are due to be transferred to Nauru following the High Court’s ruling today, February 3, that the Australian Government’s offshore detention regime is lawful.
ChilOut campaign coordinator and human rights lawyer Claire Hammerton said the outcome was unfortunately the result of the High Court being constrained in interpreting the Constitution and existing Australian law – which offers no human rights protection for people who come to Australia seeking safety.
Now the focus is on the 90 children who are slated to be sent to Nauru.
“ChilOut is extremely worried about these children and their families, and in particular the 37 babies who were born in Australia, who will be deliberately sent to a place the Australian Government knows is unsafe for children,” Ms Hammerton said.
“We know that severe harm will be caused to children in Nauru – it already has. There is compelling evidence regarding the extreme levels of distress and mental health problems that children in Nauru suffer. These children will now be sent into a situation where emotional and mental health damage is certain to occur.
”Detention is never an appropriate environment for children, but detention in Nauru is especially inappropriate. The centre in Nauru is particularly unsafe, with substantial evidence revealed in recent years regarding physical and sexual abuse in the Nauru Detention Centre and on the island, including against children.
“ChilOut has spoken to children in detention in Australia who are slated to be transferred to Nauru and they consistently tell us they are living with daily fear and anxiety about being sent there.
“The legislation that requires people who arrive by boat to be transferred offshore for processing is a product of the previous Government. We are now looking to Prime Minister Turnbull and his Government to show leadership and make decisions that prioritise the health and safety of these vulnerable children,” Ms Hammerton said