#AceNewsServices – AUSTRALIA (Naru) – October 03 – The Australian government said Friday it would investigate sexual abuse claims at its refugee detention centre on Nauru.
Ten aid workers are also to be removed from the South Pacific island following reports of coaching detainees to commit self-harm protests, Reuters reported.
Some asylum seekers reaching Australia by boat are being sent to camps in impoverished Papua New Guinea and Nauru, to face long periods of detention while they are processed.
Refugee advocates this week said women in the Nauru centre were regularly required to strip and exchange sexual favours with guards for access to the showers, prompting calls for an investigation by the opposition Labour and Greens parties.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said there were also accusations children had been forced to have sex in front of guards at the centre.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told reporters an independent investigation headed by a former integrity commissioner and working with the Nauru government had been appointed to look into the claims.
“The matters that have been brought to my attention are concerning, certainly the allegations of sexual misconduct are abhorrent and I would be horrified to think that things of that nature have taken place,” Morrison said.
Ten staff from Save the Children Australia were also being removed from Nauru, Morrison said, stressing the move was related to their professional conduct and not suspected misconduct regarding sexual abuse.
“If people want to be political activists, that’s their choice, but they don’t get to do it on the taxpayer’s dollar and working in a sensitive place like Nauru,” Morrison said.
“Making false claims and worse allegedly coaching self-harm and using children in protests is also completely unacceptable, whatever their political views or whatever their agendas.”