Tonight, when I’m saying goodnight to my daughter, I’ll be thinking about the children in the Australian run immigration detention centre on Nauru.
Those children will be sleeping in tents, in the middle of a disused phosphate mine, surrounded by high fences and security guards. Many of them will be too scared to go to the bathroom because of what the guards may do to them.
When I went to the camp on Nauru in 2013 and spoke with the families and children who are locked up there, I was horrified by what I saw. It was clear that these centres are kept out of sight and out of mind for a reason.
When you enter the secure compound on Nauru, the first thing you notice is the stifling heat that hangs heavy over the camp. The tents have no air-conditioning, fans are in cruelly short supply, the humidity is unbelievable and shade is sparse. The second thing you notice is the desperation in the eyes of the people who are being held there.
I knew at the time that no child should be held in these conditions but a recent report from the Australian Human Rights Commission has exposed, with forensic precision, the brutality of life in detention for hundreds of children.
Children under 10yrs old are so mentally distressed they have been put on suicide watch while in detention #TheForgottenChildren
— Sarah Hanson-Young (@sarahinthesen8) February 12, 2015
It showed, beyond doubt, that locking children up in these horrific conditions destroys their mental health and makes them vulnerable to physical, sexual and psychological abuse.