UNHCR undertook a visit to the Republic of Nauru from 7 to 9 October 2013 to assess the progress by Australia and Nauru in implementing their commitments under the 1951 Refugee Convention since UNHCR’s December 2012 and March 2013 visits and to review the reception conditions at the Regional Processing Centre (RPC).
Summary of key findings
UNHCR acknowledges a number of positive developments since its previous report, notably in relation to the establishment of the legal framework and implementation of refugee status determination (RSD) processing, and the considerable efforts made by officials and service providers to ameliorate the harsh conditions for asylum-seekers.
Notwithstanding these efforts, significant setbacks in RSD processing, reception conditions and the prospect of realizing a durable solution for refugees have taken place, including the 19 July riot and announcement that no refugees arriving by boat to Australia after 19 July will be settled in Australia.
In assessing the transfer arrangements in their totality, including the legal framework, operational approaches and the harsh physical conditions at the RPC, UNHCR was disappointed to observe that the current policies, conditions and operational approaches at the RPC do not comply with international standards and in particular:
a) constitute arbitrary and mandatory detention under international law;
b) despite a sound legal framework, do not provide a fair, efficient and expeditious system for assessing refugee claims;
c) do not provide safe and humane conditions of treatment in detention; and
d) do not provide for adequate and timely solutions for refugees.