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An investigation of incident reports from the detention center Nauru: Has Australia breached the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

journal contribution
posted on 2022-10-26, 04:27 authored by B Freyer, Fiona McKayFiona McKay
All asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat are subject to mandatory immigration detention. Since 2001, Australia has housed asylum seekers in offshore immigration detention facilities in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. The detention centers have been criticized both locally and internationally for the inhuman conditions in which asylum seekers are forced to live. In 2016, The Guardian Australia published more than 2000 leaked incident reports from the detention center on Nauru detailing incidents related to health, safety, and well-being of detainees. This study reports on analysis of 2,116 publicly available incident reports recorded from May 2013 to October 2015. A qualitative content analysis was conducted, resulting in the categorization of the reports into six codes based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). More than half of the incidents (n = 1,463, 69.1 percent) were categorized as in breach of human rights Most violations related to the right to life, liberty, and security (n = 748), and the right to an adequate standard of living (n = 673). While some of the reports described minor incidents, others were life-threatening or critical in terms of the asylum seekers’ mental or physical health; numerous reports involved children and youth. The reports reflect the severe mental burden of immigration detention and the inappropriate physical conditions in the center. The results are consistent with other research on immigration detention that has identified poor conditions and negative consequences of detaining asylum seekers.



Journal of Human Rights




449 - 467