Enforcing the law or fanning the flames?
Back in September, two asylum seekers being held at the Nauru detention centre were charged with damage to tents and not co-operating with police. Yesterday, it was decided the men will face court for their crimes.
A spokesmen for the Nauru government told reporters that the court order was a natural progression of justice: the refugees were expected to obey the local laws of Nauru while they remained there.
Few people would argue with this in principle. Refugees and asylum seekers are transitory citizens of a place, and should be subject to the laws of the land.
That said, Nauru is a democracy and part of the obligation to upholding this style of government is ensuring laws are obeyed and also subject to scrutiny in context of the circumstances in which they are being tried.
Because, just in case you were wondering, things in Nauru aren’t exactly peachy right now. In fact, they couldn’t be worse.
Refugee advocates claim approximately 300 people have been refusing food and water for five days in protest against what has become an untenable wait for certainty about when their applications will be processed.
Conditions in the camps are appalling. Even the Salvation Army’s director of social programs, Major Paul Moulds, has described them as “harsh.”
“People are sleeping under tents. The tents are very hot, there is no doubt about it.
“I have to say that our staffs also are under exactly the same tents and it is uncomfortable and it is difficult.
“We live, all of us, both asylum seekers and staff, in the hope that in the not too distant future conditions will improve,” he said.
It would be wrong to suggest to that refugees be encouraged to act out in a violent manner, but pursuing a court case against them in such difficult times, is just adding fuel to the fire.
What these people need right now is immediate answers and direction, not another bureaucratic process.
Follow me on Twitter: @lucyjk
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