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Guards accused of abusive searches

Wednesday 23 December 2015 | Published in Regional

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YAREN – A refugee advocate says women asylum seekers are being subjected to abusive and intrusive searches at the camp for families and single women on Nauru.

Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition says two women have lodged official complaints about Wilson Security guards using security wands in an abusive manner.

Rintoul said he has had reports about six other women have also been subjected to abusive searches since a new search rule was brought in recently.

He said the women are searched using a metal detector.

“They are required to spread their legs and their arms, that in itself has provided an excuse for male guards to use those wands in a particularly intimidatory, threatening, humiliating way by putting the wand between the woman’s legs, by passing the wand repeatedly over the breast area.

He said the searches are much more intrusive than what people would expect going through a metal detector security check at an airport.

“This new rule requires women to actually spread their legs and their arms and it’s not just female guards that are doing the wanding.

“Although in the two cases that have been reported to us it is female guards who have required the women to actually lift their shirt and lift their bra – but in those two cases it was done within view of male guards.

“The woman seemed to be playing up to the male guards saying, ‘well now you’ve lifted your shirt, you’re going to take everything off’.

“The have been told they’re looking for smartphones, they’re looking for perfume, they’re looking for lighters and they continue to confiscate any fruit or food that is actually brought back into what used to be the detention centre.

“It remains a detention centre and that’s one of the things we’re highlighting. It makes a mockery of some idea that there is an open centre on Nauru.

“Nothing has changed. Even though they made an announcement that it was going to be an open centre and all these people were actually going to be processed. Perhaps 30 or 40 people have been processed but a couple of hundred people remain completely unprocessed with no notification of their refugee determinations.

“In terms of the centre itself actually nothing has changed. They are subjected to searches in and out of the detention centre. They’re not allowed to take anything out, they’re not allowed to bring anything in.

“Smartphones for example are still banned, they’re not allowed to bring food or fruit or anything that’s bought outside the detention centre so I mean it’s a mockery of the Nauru government’s announcement.

Wilson Security has not responded yet to a request for comment.

- Dateline Pacific