Monday, June 13, 2011

[pima.nius] Nauru close to signing UN refugee convention

1:48 PM |

Nauru close to signing UN refugee convention

Updated June 13, 2011 16:59:10

Nauru's president says his country could soon sign the United Nations Refugee Convention as it builds a case to reopen the Australian asylum seeker processing centre on the island.

Marcus Stephen made the comments after meeting with Australia's Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who was on Nauru to inspect the facility.

There's growing pressure from within Australia for the Gillard Government to reopen the Nauru detention centre instead of opening a new one in Malaysia, or reopening the Manus Island centre in PNG.

Nauru president Marcus Stephen says the centre could easily be reopened if Australia makes a request.

Presenter: Cameron Wilson
Speaker: Marcus Stephen, President of Nauru

STEPHEN: Our position has not changed at all. We've always said that if Australia sees Nauru as a solution we're happy to help Australia any time. We have a very long relationship and history with Australia, and we always work on Australia if they need some help from us. We owe a great deal of gratitude to Australia over the decades, and if they come to Nauru in terms of assistance, then we have ongoing assistance from Australia that we're very happy with, so if Australia sees Nauru as a solution we're happy to consider any proposals from them.

WILSON: There are questions raised about the state of the facility that's not been used since 2005. If the Australian government and of course it was the opposition leader not the government that you've just met with, but if the Australian government called on you, how quickly could you get the centre up and running and in a useable state?

STEPHEN: I'm not a qualified person, but I think the important thing is that the main infrastructure is still in place, one area we're using for our primary school and the other area we'll use for our rehabilitation corporation for rehab work. So those places are still there, the main infrastructure is still there. I'm sure with a bit of work maybe it's doable within a few weeks or months.

WILSON: Are you worried in any way that meeting with Australia's opposition leader actually makes it less likely that the government will pursue opening the centre in Nauru? And I ask you that purely because does it make the politics of the Australian government making that decision more difficult?

STEPHEN: Well I'm not worried about members of parliament coming to Nauru, they're also welcome to come to Nauru, whether the opposition or government. What I'm worried about is that there is a wrong picture being painted about Nauru, Nauru becoming a hell hole or very negative media, I'm worried about that because that's not a fact, Nauru is a very friendly place, very welcoming place, and it's a typical island. I'm more worried about Nauru and I'm not worried about politics coming in in Australia, policies are there for governments to make, that's the reality, and really for us it's not a big deal, � our country now is much more stable, if it doesn't happen it doesn't happen, we move on and we have a country to run.

WILSON: What would you say to people who are concerned about the human rights and treatment of any asylum seekers if they were ultimately processed on Nauru?

STEPHEN: We on the ground here on the island know that there was no big issues on human rights, those people were � it was an open centre, those asylum seekers were allowed to freely move around within the curfew times, they enjoyed their stay. I think it's the processing itself there was a concern, but that is something that is out of our hands.

WILSON: You mean the length of time that it took Australia to process them?

STEPHEN: I think the length of time, yeah, the process, from what I understand the people who run the processing centre that's something that they've got to address. But in terms of the treatment and the way they were looked after, I think that was first class. Having said that we also looked at the issue about the signing to the UN convention on asylum seekers, we did say we will have a look at that, we will review it. It's taken a while, early this year we were up for the universal periodic review of the land, and those were the issues that were raised at that ??, and we have now a brief from our Justice department, and basically the bottom line is there is no major issue that should not allow us to sign up to the treaty.

WILSON: Can I just be clear here, so Nauru would consider or is considering signing on to the UN convention if that would help your cause?

STEPHEN: Well like I said I've got that brief on hand now from our Justice department and we also have a committee established to look at all different kinds of UN conventions. Basically like I said earlier there is nothing major there to prevent us from signing, so it's gone through the formalities now and at the end of the day we'll just need Cabinet approval.

WILSON: That's all that's stopping you signing the treaty?

STEPHEN: Nothing stopping us, it's just now going through the process, and it's just a matter of time when the Cabinet sits and looks at the cabinet submissions.

WILSON: Do you know how long that could take?

STEPHEN: Technically President calls Cabinet meeting, so it can take any time, but I would just wait the normal, which is have a few cabinet papers ready rather than the one. So technically anytime.

WILSON: Have you got in mind what you would ask in terms of other assistance from Australia in exchange for reopening the processing centre?

STEPHEN: Not really, yes they also understand that back in 2001 it's a different situation in 2011. We have all major infrastructure in place, the country's now more stable, like I said earlier we're basically more than happy to assist Australia if they need our help. So we also have a partnership, a long-term partnership we signed in Cairns during the Forum meetings with Kevin Rudd when he was PM, we're happy with that partnership agreement and really we don't much care, we're happy with the assistance we're getting from Australia.


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pacific islands media association
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aotearoa, new zealand
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pacific islands media association
pima.nius@gmail.com
aotearoa, new zealand
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The pima.nius googlegroup is a facility for discussion and distributing information. Content sent by this googlegroup are forwarded from various networks and media publications.
 
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