Nauru legal fiasco: Refugee groups call for charged asylum seekers to be brought to the mainland

“The fiasco engulfing the Nauru legal system has serious implications for the asylum seekers still facing charges following the so-called riot on Nauru on 19 July, 2013,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Around 80 asylum seekers are being held on Nauru pending trials on charges arising from the 19 July incidents. To compound the situation, most of the 80 have already had refugee status determination interviews; many no doubt found to be refugees.

The 80 had mention dates starting in the Nauruan courts this week, although it was considered likely that many of the charges would be dismissed for lack of evidence. Previous criminal cases against asylum seekers had been dropped because of the impossibility of proper trials.

The 80 are the only asylum seekers left on the island who were sent there before the Pacific Solution Mark II came into effect on 19 July, 2013. All other asylum seekers taken to Nauru before 19 July have been transferred to the mainland; around half were released into the community, while around 300 are in Curtin detention centre.

“The sacking of the chief magistrate by the Nauru government makes it clearer than ever that the charged asylum seekers cannot get a free trial on Nauru. They have been held since 19 July – but trial dates have been postponed over and over again. The charges against the asylum seekers are also politically motivated. Justice delayed is justice denied – and justice is certainly being denied to the charged asylum seekers. The Australian government should immediately bring the charged asylum seekers to the mainland.

“At a wider level, it is also clear that the Australian government is maintaining its detention centre on Nauru by propping up and doing business with corrupt politicians. Tens of millions of dollars are being thrown at Nauru to try and keep the Australian detention centre in place.

“The Abbott government is complicit in the corrupt system on Nauru. The detention centre should be closed,” said Rintoul.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul mob 0417 275 713

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