Dept. Of Immigration Muffling Internal Channels In Face of Nauru Island Inquest, Investigating Whistleblowers

Words by: Jonathon Davidson

The Senate Committee behind the current inquiry into the processing of asylum seekers within Nauru detention centre heard a number of new submissions as part of today’s hearing for the inquest.

NewMatilda have reported that the Department of Immigration requested that the Australian Federal Police investigate staff members working within the detention centre following anonymous submissions made to the inquest. The submissions in question detailed incidents of sexual assault occurring within the facility.

These revelations came alongside one Dr. Peter Young telling the Senate Committee that the Department of Immigration directed internal staff members not to submit information to the Human Rights Commission as part of the inquest. As NewMatilda writer Max Chalmers duly points out, this is in despite of the fact that independent reviews and reports have declared that such allegations of sexual assault within the facility are likely credible.

Most notably the Moss report, which you can view here. 

TheConversation also released their own independent article today detailing upcoming legislation to be operational in July, which restricts doctors and medical personnel working within the Nauru Island detention centre from reporting mistreatment. In fact, it makes doctors whom report mistreatment criminals under Australian law. 

As independent Australian journalists have promised to release more Australia-specific information from the Edward Snowden cache this year, it is clear that the global trend of criminalisation of whistleblowers within security and immigration institutions is set to influence the rule of law within Australia also, at arguably one of the most critical points on our historical timeline.

These concerns are highlighted by obvious tensions coming from opposing imperatives within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Recent plans to loosen citizenship status for Australians in response to terrorism from Abbott and Dutton have been contrasted by Malcom Turnbull’s open advocacy for digital data encryption, and Julie Bishop’s assurances of protection offered to Journalists and their right to confidential sources when working within her department.