THE state of West Australia has opened its doors to asylum seekers detained at the offshore processing center in Nauru amid widespread allegations of abuse towards refugees on the island state.
According to ABC, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said the state government was prepared to accommodate the asylum seekers following revelations in the ‘Nauru Files’ leak, which detailed alleged sex abuse, assault, and torture of refugees – mostly children – at the controversial center.
The offer came ahead of the closure of another refugee center on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
Barnett, of the Liberal party, said the state was prepared to accept asylum seeker families if the federal government had changed its mind on its ruling against allowing refugees to enter Australia.
“The answer to your question is that particularly for families, as long as they don’t present a security or safety risk, I do welcome them being in Australia,” Mr Barnett was quoted as saying yesterday.
“The one thing I find unacceptable is children in detention.”
Barnett did not, however, urge for a change in Australia’s strict immigration policy, which is aimed at curbing people smuggling.
“I wouldn’t call on the Federal Government but if they decide to do that we would certainly accommodate a number of them [asylum seekers] in Western Australia and we’d certainly support them as a state government.”
The Australian government recently struck a mutual agreement with Papua New Guinea to close the Manus prison camp but has since kept the matter under wraps. It is not immediately known when the camp would shutter or what would happen to its 850 detainees.
Australia’s policy of sending migrants who try to reach its shores by boat to island detention centers has long drawn criticism from human rights groups. In April, Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled that the Australian-run detention center on Manus Island was unconstitutional.
Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill issued a statement Wednesday saying he met with Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and that the two countries agreed the center will be closed.
Last week, The Guardian released a large cache of over 2,000 documents showing asylum seekers in a similar center in Nauru, describing their “atrocious” living conditions, in an illustration of cruelty and routine dysfunction as a norm.
Dutton said the government remained firm on its stance that all of the refugees currently in Papua New Guinea, or those coming from elsewhere, would not resettled in Australia.