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UN subcommittee on the prevention of torture says that, given the number of people being held on Nauru, a permanent observer based on the island is needed
The Australian offshore processing centre, just inland from Ewa district on Nauru, where families and single women are held.
Photograph: Remi Chauvin for the Guardian
Paul Farrell
Thursday 7 May 2015 

A United Nations inspection group has called for the creation of an independent monitor to oversee the Nauru detention centre after a three-day visit to the island nation.

The UN subcommittee on the prevention of torture visited Nauru from 4 to 6 May. Its representatives were granted broad access to the detention centre that houses asylum seekers, were allowed to take photographs and could interview asylum seekers away from the presence of guards.

In March the UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, found that Australia had violated the International Convention Against Torture by failing to provide adequate conditions, failing to prevent violence and keeping children in detention.

Malcolm Evans, the chairman of the subcommittee’s delegation, said it welcomed the opportunity to inspect the centre. But he also called for the establishment of a “national preventative mechanism”, which signatories to the UN convention are required to establish to monitor places of detention.

In Sri Lanka on Wednesday, Immigration minister Peter Dutton announced the imminent transfer of refugees from Nauru to Cambodia.
“Given the number of people currently being held on the island, the establishment of a national preventative mechanism to address their needs and their situation becomes even more pressing,” Evans said.


He said the subcommittee would be happy to respond to any request for assistance from Nauru.

The detention centre is set to face further scrutiny this year, when a Senate inquiry investigates allegations of sexual assault and conditions at the centre.

On Thursday the immigration minister, Peter Dutton, announced that the government had held a series of meetings with Sri Lanka on people-smuggling and asylum seeker operations.

“Australia and Sri Lanka have and will continue to work closely together to detect, disrupt and return people-smuggling ventures and combat other transnational crimes,” Dutton said.

“The relationship between Australia and Sri Lanka continues to go from strength to strength, and I am excited by the opportunities that will be available to our nations in the future through increased trade, investment, tourism and education.”

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