YAREN, Nauru – The newly elected Rudd government in Australia has said that Australia’s offshore immigration detention centre in Nauru will be closed, though no timeframe has been released. Rudd says that the reason for this secrecy is due to the contractual relationships between Australia and Nauru. He further stated that his government would use a new facility on Christmas Island instead, which is within the Australian commonwealth and has an 800-bed capacity.
Human rights activist Susan Metcalfe agrees with the decision to close the facility, but is concerned about the economic impact the closure will have on Nauru. She told Radio New Zealand International, “I feel quite concerned for Nauru, there is quite a dependency on the camps and to pull them out very quickly will hurt the country, I believe. I hope that the Labor party will handle that transition very carefully. They need to have a lot of discussions with the Nauruan government and the aid package that they give, I hope, will be substantial.”
Rudd also did not commit Australia to taking the 72 Sri Lankans who were granted refugee status in September but remain in detention in the Nauru facility. (For background on this story, please see the Impunity Watch reportshere and here.) The coalition government is currently looking for other countries willing to take the refugees, but the refugees themselves have asked that the incoming Rudd government make a resettlement decision quickly.
For more information, please see:
The Age – Rudd has no timeframe for Nauru closure – 21 November 2007
Islands Business – Refugee group expects new Australian govt to close Nauru centre – 26 November 2007
Islands Business – Detainees make appeal to Rudd – 27 November 2007
Radio New Zealand International – Human rights activist says Nauru will need compensation from Canberra when camp closes – 27 November 2007