Albanese Government working with US prison company until 2025 to hold refugees in Nauru

Media Release
27 January 2023

Despite refugees held offshore being in need of urgent medical evacuation, the Albanese Government contracted the US private prison company, Management and Training Corporation (MTC), until September 2025 to hold refugees on Nauru, costing $422 million according to information released on AusTender today.

There are currently around 60 refugees held in Nauru after a decade of being subjected to traumatic and harmful conditions in offshore detention. There are a further 90 refugees who sought asylum in Australia and were taken offshore and remain in PNG, however, the MTC contract only covers Nauru.

Refugees in PNG and Nauru lack access to adequate medical care, are separated from their families and are denied basic human rights. After a decade, every refugee held offshore requires medical care and needs immediate medical evacuation to Australia.

MTC, described in a recent US lawsuit as “a private corporation that traffics in human captivity for profit”, is currently accused of pandemic profiteering and unlawful use of solitary confinement, amongst various other instances of negligence and unnecessary use of force. The company makes money from the US prison system and runs five notorious immigration detention centres for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

MTC has been operating in Nauru since August 2022 on short-term contracts awarded through a limited tender with the Australian Government. This morning the most recent contract was extended from 31 January 2023 to 30 September 2025 for an additional $350 million.

During November 2022 Senate Estimates it was revealed that MTC at that point had not yet signed a formal long-term agreement with the Federal Government and was only operating in Nauru based on a ‘Letter of Intent’ while negotiations were ongoing.

Thanush Selvarasa, human rights activist and refugee detained on Manus Island, PNG, released on 28 Jan 2021 said: “They don’t realise the pain they are causing. They are playing with human suffering. My friends who are left need to be immediately evacuated to Australia, but now there is a contract until 2025, they just keep updating the pain.

They are separating families. We have loved ones and family. Enough is enough, it is ten years, we need permanency we need to see our family.”

Jana Favero, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at ASRC, said: “The economic cost of offshore detention, while appalling, is not comparable to the mental and physical costs. Since 2013 there have been 14 deaths as a result of offshore detention and a series of serious abuses, including child sexual abuse, medical negligence and high levels of self-harm.

This system is a moral and financial black hole. Keeping someone in these conditions for one day would be a national shame. Yet the Government has chosen to burn through billions of dollars to keep thousands of people who came to Australia to seek safety in these conditions. Enough is enough, people need to be medically evacuated now.”


Media contact: Sam Brennan or 0428 973 324

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