CANBERRA -- Police on Nauru have launched an extraordinary defence of their dealings with refugees on the island nation, claiming refugees "fabricate" allegations of abuse and that journalists are engaging in "false reporting" of events around the detention centre.
In a press release titled 'We won't cop it anymore,' which The Huffington Post Australia has confirmed was officially released by the Government of Nauru, police officials say they "are sick of the lies told about them and the fabricated allegations of refugees – encouraged by Australian advocates and lawyers - and want the truth revealed".
The statement was released on Tuesday, the eve of the High Court decision that effectively destined more than 250 refugees in onshore immigration detention in Australia to be sent to Nauru.
Police Commissioner Corey Caleb is quoted as claiming that -- contrary to reports that Nauruan people are bullying or abusing refugees relocated to the detention centre there -- police are being more often dealing with conflicts between refugees, which he said stem from existing cultural tensions from their home countries.
"We would receive around five call-outs every day for disputes between refugees, and these have nothing to do with locals. That's more than the calls we receive daily from the entire Nauruan population," Caleb said.
"Some fight with each other and even within the nationalities there are different groups who have been at war with each other for generations based on religious or cultural grounds. Tensions are rising but it's not between refugees and locals but just between refugees."
Nauru (file pic)
Caleb also claimed that "refugees regularly fabricate allegations of assault and sexual assault as they know that Australian advocates and lawyers will publicise the lies as fact through friendly Australian journalists who also have a political agenda," and that "Australian refugee advocates and journalists are encouraging false reporting".
"They tell us they have been assaulted but their stories seldom add up; there is usually no physical evidence or witnesses or even any details," he said.
The Nauruan Justice Minister David Adeang goes further, alleging "false allegations" were used by refugees and refugee advocates to gain entry to Australia.
"Most refugees within our community respect our hospitality but a minority will scheme to bring unrest because they think it will help their objective," Adeang said in the release.
Australian refugee advocate Shane Bazzi, who is in regular contact with many refugees on Nauru, vehemently denied the claims.
"I challenge the police Commissioner to name the refugee advocates and lawyers that he made those allegations about. What evidence does he have?" Bazzi told HuffPost Australia.
"What rubbish. In relation to the claims about conflicts between refugees, I'm not aware of that. This is just another smear campaign by the government of Nauru. It shows they aren't taking the refugees' reports of assault seriously, which is really concerning."