CANBERRA – The United Nations has condemned a culture of “impunity” on Nauru regarding alleged sex crimes and sought a “decent” outcome for “Abyan”, the pregnant refugee who has sought a termination.
The office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a statement overnight saying it is ”very disturbed” by a growing number of sexual assault and rape allegations since Australia restarted its policy of transferring asylum seekers to Nauru for processing in 2012.
It has urged Australia and Nauru to urgently provide a “decent” outcome for “Abyan”, the 23-year-old Somali-born refugee who is 15 weeks pregnant from an alleged sexual assault on Nauru.
Nauruan authorities reject the allegation, but the OHCHR has directly spoken to “Abyan”, who it said is in an impossible situation.
“Abyan is in a very fragile mental and physical condition and is deeply traumatised by her experiences since the day of the alleged rape,” Rupert Colville, OHCHR spokesman said in Geneva overnight.
“She has refused to give information to the Nauru police about her attacker because she is understandably afraid of reprisals.”
“She does not feel safe, given that her alleged attacker lives on Nauru, which is a very small island State with a population of around 10,000."
Abyan was flown to Australia earlier this month for assessment and a planned abortion, but was flown back to the Pacific island nation after Australian authorities claimed she changed her mind about the procedure.
Abyan has since been reported as claiming she wants the termination, but not by returning to Australia.
“We call upon Australia and Nauru to urgently provide a decent option for 'Abyan,' to obtain adequate mental and physical care and to terminate her pregnancy if she desires,” Colville said.
The office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights said it is concerned about reports that the Nauru police have failed to take action against alleged perpetrators of violence against women, “particularly when the victims have been asylum seekers and refugees.”
The OHCHR details two other reported examples of alleged sexual assault on Nauru, where no one has been arrested by police. In one publicised case, personal details were given “inappropriately” to the media.
“OHCHR is very disturbed by this trend, since impunity for such serious crimes increases the risk they will be repeated,” the statement read.
“It is a matter of particular concern that asylum-seeker and refugee women who have allegedly been raped or sexually assaulted are left in unsafe conditions, given their own vulnerable status and the close proximity of their attackers, and tend to be stigmatised by the population and by members of the Nauru police force.
“Women are also less likely to speak out if they fear reprisals and see little-to-no chance of justice being done.”
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has been sought for comment.