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Refugees abused by some Nauruans-Amnesty

AAP logoAAP 17/10/2016 Belinda Merhab

Nauru has failed to hold anyone accountable for dozens of attacks on asylum seekers being held at an Australian detention centre, Amnesty International claims.

It's released a damning report saying detainees are targets of abuse by some locals on the island, including people in positions of authority.

Despite accounts of "dozens" of physical and sexual attacks, Amnesty said it appeared no Nauruan had been held to account.

The report released on Monday is based on research by senior director for research Anna Neistat, who travelled to Nauru in July for five days and met 58 refugees and asylum seekers and service providers.

Amnesty cited "credible" reports asylum seekers were being jailed for harming themselves or threatening to, despite Nauru this year decriminalising suicide.

It criticised Australia's offshore processing regime, saying it fitted the definition of torture under international law.

Dr Neistat accused the Australian government of running an open-air prison.

"It is a model that minimises protection and maximises harm," she said.

"The only direction in which Australia is leading the world on refugees is in a dangerous plunge to the bottom."

Dr Neistat said nearly everyone she spoke to on the island, including children, reported mental health issues that began when they were transferred to Nauru.

"I met children who had tried to kill themselves multiple times," she said.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

Multicultural Mental Health Australia www.mmha.org.au.

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