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Danes to check out Nauru camp

Friday 26 August 2016 | Published in Regional

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NAURU – Danish members of parliament are set to travel to Nauru to visit the island’s controversial detention centre and study the use of offshore settlements for asylum-seekers, one of the MPs said.

Six members of the Danish parliament’s Immigration and Integration Affairs Committee will reportedly leave on Saturday for Australia and then Nauru, Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen of the leftist Red-Green Alliance said, confirming reports in Danish media.

Schmidt-Nielsen said that although she found the Australian offshore detention system “grotesque”, the trip – planned for several months – was a chance for her to “ask some of the questions that the Australian government is preventing journalists from asking”.

The recent release of more than 2000 leaked reports of incidents on Nauru detailing allegations of widespread abuse and self-harm, including children wanting to kill themselves, have renewed calls for a parliamentary inquiry.

But the Nauru government responded last week, saying asylum-seekers had made up most of the claims in the hope of being relocated to Australia.

However, not all Danish MPs are critical of the offshore detention policies that have been implemented in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Martin Heriksen of the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DPP) and the chairman of the Danish parliamentary committee, has previously described the Australian policy as being “very sensible”.

Meanwhile the ruling Venstre Party’s hardline Integration Minister, Inger Stojberg, has said that the system “apparently works in an Australian context” and that her government would “continually consider experiences from other countries”.

The Danish government rules with the help of the anti-immigration DPP in parliament and has passed tough legislation to deter asylum seekers from coming to the country, including allowing police to confiscate some of the asylum seekers’ valuables to help pay for their accommodation.

The Australian government said on August 17 that it had agreed to close the Papua New Guinea refugee camp.

The Guardian, which published the Nauru reports, said that only two Australian journalists had been granted access to the Nauru detention centre in the past three years.

- ABC