By HAYDEN COOPER
The ABC’s 7.30 has obtained a harrowing video of the moment one of the victims was found by Nauruan police, several hours after the alleged assault occurred.
The footage was filmed in the dark by the 26-year-old Somali woman as she hid in the bushes late at night on August 21 after allegedly being raped by two Nauruan men.
In the video, the woman is heard weeping and calling for help as she phones Nauruan police.
“Please come help me,” she pleads as sirens are heard in the background.
The woman, known as Najma (not her real name) has told the ABC she feels unsafe on Nauru.
“As a Somali girl, I was hoping to come to a safe place, but I have no safety,” she said.
“As we walk to work, Nauruan men charge us five dollars to use the road, then they follow us and harass us or touch us.”
Both the women live in the Nauruan community.
The attack is the latest in a string of sexual assaults on Nauru, both inside the immigration detention centre, and outside in the refugee community.
A recent Senate inquiry uncovered the number of assaults perpetrated on asylum-seekers on the island.
The company responsible for running the detention centre, Transfield Services, told senators it received 67 allegations of child abuse until May this year, 30 of them involving detention centre staff.
Daniel Webb, the director of legal advocacy at Melbourne’s Human Rights Law Centre, said Australia should not be settling refugees in the Nauruan community.
“It’s becoming clear that Nauru, both inside the detention centre and outside of it, is not a safe place for women and not a safe place for children,” he said.
‘Police took four hours to arrive’
In a police statement obtained by 7.30, the Somali woman said she was out walking near the Ewa settlement camp when she was dragged into the bushes by two Nauruan men and raped.
She said police took four hours to arrive, and she has heard no update since on the subsequent investigation.
The second woman said she was 10 weeks pregnant after also being raped.
She said she wanted to come to Australia to have an abortion.
A third woman, an Iranian asylum-seeker, remains in a Brisbane hospital after she too was raped on the island.
There are serious doubts about the capacity and ability of Nauruan police to investigate alleged crimes.
The Senate inquiry revealed that out of the 50 incidents referred to Nauruan police by detention centre operators since 2012, just two convictions were obtained.
Nauru’s legal system has also deteriorated amid an assault on the rule of law and freedom of speech on the island.
New Zealand’s government recently suspended its aid funding for the Nauruan justice system as a result of political prosecutions, including against opposition MPs.
Nauru justice system ‘can’t protect’ victims
Mr Webb said assault victims in Nauru had little hope of justice.
“The reality is that the Nauruan justice system and rule of law is in complete disarray,” he said.
“Not only is Nauru an unsafe place for vulnerable women and children that Australia sends there, the Nauruan justice system can’t protect them.”
The ABC sent several questions to the Nauruan police, requesting details on the number of assault cases, and the number of arrests made.
A reply was received from the Nauruan government’s Australian public relations agent, Lyall Mercer.
“Due to continued unbalanced and inaccurate coverage of Nauru by the ABC we will not respond to this request,” the email stated.
“We can only assume that the ABC does not wish to report the facts and that political activism has replaced ethical journalism, therefore we will not be cooperating on this occasion.”
In a statement to the ABC, the Immigration Department said it worked with the government of Nauru to provide a safe environment for asylum seekers and refugees.
It said in the event of sexual assault allegations, asylum seekers and refugees were provided with medical treatment and mental health support.
The Department said it was aware of a sexual assault allegation involving the Somali woman. But it would not say if the two recent victims would be brought to Australia.
Former case manager goes on record over threats to women
The Australian Government’s Border Force Act prevents detention centre staff from speaking publicly about their work on the island, at risk of two years’ jail.
But a former Save the Children case manager has given an interview to 7.30 to reveal information about threats to refugee women.
Danielle Serrano, who worked on Nauru last year, said she was aware of local Nauruan security guards threatening single female asylum-seekers at the detention centre.
“Some of the local guards had said to them that they were looking forward to them being released because of what they would like to do to them,” she said.
“So yes, I am aware of instances where that fear was made known.”
About 400 refugees have been released into the Nauruan community after being granted visas by the Pacific country.
Ms Serrano revealed that during her time on the island, detention centre staff were warned about safety on Nauru, and advised not to travel alone.
“Immigration are aware… that the environment is not safe,” she said.
“That made me quite frustrated to be thinking, ‘How come you care about my safety and our safety as staff and as women, yet on this island you want to release women and children’?”
Ms Serrano said she felt compelled to speak out despite the Border Force Act.
“Professionally and ethically I can’t know this, and not say something,” she said.
This post originally appeared on the ABC.
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