There are just too many claims of abuse, violence and even torture by unregulated guards and locals against detainees in both Manus Island and Nauru. It isn't just unsubstantiated claims but photos, videos and testimony of former workers- and they paint a damning picture of what is being done in Australia’s name and tarnishing our international reputation.
Even if many of the claims were found to be baseless, the government's refusal to even entertain it as a serious topic for discussion is morally bereft. This is a situation they have engineered and must take responsibility for. As such, if even a fraction of the atrocities reported have actually happened those involved should face charges and the system, itself, needs to be reviewed to ensure they are not recurring incidents.
I have argued previously that I believe the expensive and indefinite internment of refugees offshore should end, but I recognise that offshore detention is a contentious issue for the government and one that they will want to take a populist position on. Sadly, being seen as hard on national security seems more politically valuable than being seen as against systemic abuse of innocent people. Even writing that sentence I wonder how we have got to this, but it is the only conclusion I can draw based on the behaviour of our government.
I was glad to hear of the PNG Supreme Court’s decision that internment of refugees on Manus Island was illegal and must end. Admittedly this raises the next question of where the former prisoners are to go. Peter Dutton has been very clear that this a problem for PNG, whilst also maintaining that they cannot accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle some them. It is actually quite remarkable that he can keep a straight face whilst making both of these claims, but he does.
While I accept the government may have its reasons for continuing offshore detention, it is morally reprehensible that they will not allow monitoring agencies in to ensure accountability of companies like Wilson Security and Broadspectrum. Working in a detention facility is not an easy job to do right, as famously demonstrated by the Stanford Prison Experiment, which is all the more reason it must be done with oversight and accountability. And there is little about Broadspectrum or Wilson Security that gives me confidence that this appropriate oversight is in place.
This is being done by my government, which supposedly enacts the will of people like me. Is this really our will? Even if you believe offshore detention is a necessary policy, I don't see how anyone can be ok with the unfortunate detainees being exposed to this type of unnecessary sadism and cruelty.