Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugees status, and the government has established a process for providing protection to refugees. The law includes a provision for nonrefoulement.
Following the re-opening of the Regional Processing Center in 2012 and the adoption of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Australia in 2013, the number of asylum seekers in the country increased. As of October authorities reported 808 asylum seekers lived in the country as refugees. UNHCR stated 87 of these refugees were children.
Refugee Abuse: International media reported several cases of alleged rape of female refugees at the regional processing center. In February an Australian Immigration Department-commissioned inquiry reported on allegations of drug dealing, sexual assault, and rape related to the processing center. In August an Australian Senate select committee released a 207-page report on conditions at the processing center and recommended a “full audit” of allegations of sexual abuse, child abuse, and other criminal conduct. As of November authorities were investigating these allegations but had closed some cases due to lack of evidence.
In October Australian media reported that authorities transferred a female detainee to Sydney, Australia, for medical treatment. She was reportedly one of two Somali women who alleged that two Nauruan men raped them at the processing center. Media claimed she came to Sydney for an abortion, a procedure that is illegal in Nauru. Australia returned her to the country on October 16 after she decided not to have an abortion. On October 28, the Australian immigration minister told media she would return to Australia for another medical consultation.
Access to Basic Services: Within the processing center, the Australian government, through contractors and NGOs, provided basic services, including food, shelter, water, and sanitation and health infrastructure, as well as health care, education, and psychosocial counseling services. Once processed, refugees could move to purpose-built communities with water, electricity, and shelter, from which they had access to education and health care and could seek employment, while maintaining access to services at the regional processing center.
Durable Solutions: In 2012 Australia and the government signed an MOU for the government to operate a center to process persons seeking asylum in Australia, and the Regional Processing Center received its first group of asylum seekers in 2012. By October the government had accepted 808 asylum seekers as temporary refugees in the country. Another 380 asylum seekers were awaiting or contesting refugee determination. The government grants five-year visas to asylum seekers who receive refugee determination. During the year international human rights organizations (including foreign citizens who formerly worked in the regional processing center) criticized living conditions at the processing center, the lack of mental health treatment, and lengthy processing times.
After Australia reached agreement with Cambodia to resettle refugees on a voluntary basis from the processing center, four refugees from the processing center arrived in Cambodia in June.