Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum calls for Royal Commission into human rights abuses on Nauru



The Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) has today called on the Federal government to establish a Royal Commission following allegations of countless cases of abuse, sexual assault and self-harm of people seeking asylum on Nauru.

The leaked ‘Nauru Files’ by the Guardian Australia, details more than 2000 incidents involving people placed on Nauru by the Australian government from May 2013 to October 2015. More than half of these cases involved children.

CAPSA firmly believes that mandatory, arbitrary and indefinite detention of people seeking asylum is unjustifiable, unnecessary, and a breach of Australia’s responsibility to respect the human dignity and lives of those in its care.

“We are seeing reports of self-harm that are just heart-wrenching – swallowing detergent, self-immolations and lip-sewing”, said Julie Edwards, chair of CAPSA.

“What is most shocking are allegations that security guards and bus drivers sub-contracted by the Australian government are sexually assaulting and harassing children and women living on Nauru.”

“Just two weeks ago we saw the horrors of abuse in the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and we are of course acutely aware of the lasting impacts of institutionalised child sex abuse. Leaks of what is happening on Nauru demands the same response to protect the rights of people seeking asylum, and in particular children. We need a Royal Commission.”

CAPSA has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton, to immediately close the detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, and relocate the people residing there to adequate and safe accommodation in Australia.

“Clearly, our leaders have a responsibility for what happens on Nauru. It is time they accept that these offshore detention centres are cruel, inhumane and are a blight on our nation. We urge leaders across the political spectrum to stand for and promote the dignity of the human person as well as promoting the rights of people seeking asylum who are being held on Nauru and Manus Island.”


CAPSA is a national initiative to influence hearts and minds in the Catholic community towards a more just, compassionate and humane welcome of people seeking asylum.

Media enquiries: Kathryn Kernohan, 0409 901 248 or