Richardson Review provides further evidence for Albanese Government to finally end offshore cruelty and corruption

MEDIA RELEASE: A report released yesterday by Home Affairs confirms the Morrison Government put the lives of refugees and people seeking asylum in the hands of dodgy offshore detention operators suspected of bribery, drugs and arms smuggling, money laundering and other criminal activity.

Following years of corruption allegations, lack of transparency and oversight, the ASRC welcomes the ‘Richardson Review’ and its investigation into the integrity and governance arrangements for the management of Australia’s offshore detention centres.

The report highlights that Home Affairs lacked proper “due diligence’’ and placed “less emphasis on the assessment of a tenderer’s ethical conduct and integrity” and that there was no evidence of security or criminal checks prior to the Albanese Government entering into its current contract with Nauru operators – MTC Australia. This is despite reported allegations in The Guardian of gross negligence by the company’s United States arm in its operations of US private prisons.

The report lays out a number of positive recommendations for improving the Government’s monitoring of offshore practices, however the ASRC is deeply concerned the report’s scope fails to examine the human rights breaches that occurred on Nauru and Manus under the watch of government-funded operators.

For the past decade, the ASRC has continued to report on the treatment and human rights abuses suffered by people and children held on Nauru and Manus Island, including violent assaults, rape, child abuse, torture, medical neglect, and the deaths of at least 14 people as a direct result of living in offshore detention.

In its response to the Richardson report, the Australian Government agreed with recommendations to more carefully consider the “ethical conduct and integrity of tenderers, suppliers and supply chains”. However, the Albanese Government continues its secrecy around funding agreements to PNG and the detention arrangements and welfare of 15 people currently being held on Nauru.

Jana Favero, ASRC Director of Systemic Change:
“What this report affirms, is what we’ve been saying for years, that dodgy offshore companies have been profiteering off the human suffering of refugees and people seeking asylum – and that previous Governments have allowed it to happen.

“Now the Albanese Government has an opportunity to end this shameful chapter in our history and to right the wrongs of the past. We urge the Government to provide transparency around the current detainees on Nauru and to commit to a Royal Commission into Immigration Detention that will finally provide justice for the many people and children who suffered unnecessarily on Nauru and Manus Island.”

Mardin Arvin, refugee and human rights defender held in PNG  for six years*
“When people seek asylum, they are already traumatised by the situation that drove them from their own country. They seek safety, care and loving, from human beings from the country whose people take them in.

“The militarised prison environment of Manus and Nauru drove many young men to suicide and self-harm. From arrival offshore, they were immediately dehumanised and incarcerated. No adequate living facilities, care or health services were provided.”

Quote taken from ASRC’s report on Offshore Detention: Finish this Crisis

Heidi Abdel-Raouf, ASRC detention advocacy caseworker:
“The shameful legacy of corruption at the heart of Australia’s offshore detention continues today with the 55 refugees, formerly detained on Manus Island, still waiting in Papua New Guinea for resettlement a decade after they first came here seeking safety.

“Now, due to alleged lack of payment by the Australian Government and mismanagement of funds by PNG operators, they’ve been cut off from food and access to medical care and face starvation and homelessness with their families. It’s time to put an end to the uncertainty and trauma and bring them to safety in Australia while their resettlement options are progressed.”


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