Island of Despair
Family members of asylum seekers, currently being held on the tiny south Pacific island of Nauru, cries during a media conference to officially launch Amnesty International's report titled Island Of Despair - Australia's "Processing" Of Refugees On Nauru, in SydneyReuters

The Australian government has dismissed a human rights violation report which alleged that the condition of asylum seekers in the island country of Nauru "amounts to torture". The report, published by Amnesty International on Monday (17 October), claimed that the Australian immigration regime in Nauru was an "open-air prison".

Titled Island of Despair, the report noted that the current policy of the "Australian Government is that no person who arrives in the country by boat seeking asylum can ever settle in Australia.

"Instead, anyone who arrives by boat is forcibly taken by the Government of Australia to offshore 'Refugee Processing Centers' on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea or the remote Pacific island of Nauru."

It also mentioned that this was a "deliberate policy to inflict harm on refugees" and imposes conditions that "amount to torture".

However, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, "I reject that claim totally. It is absolutely false."

He told ABC radio, "The Australian government's commitment is compassionate and strong."

The Nauru government did not respond directly to the Amnesty report, but said refugee children, who appeared in an ABC TV programme making similar allegations and describing the dilemma of youngsters detained on the island, were "coached" for the documentary.

It also alleged that the news broadcaster did not seek comment from the Nauru government before airing the "wild and unsubstantiated" claims. The government accused the TV channel of biased political propaganda, saying the report was a shame to journalism.

Later, ABC said the show was "an important story, of obvious public interest".

Amnesty's report comes just weeks after the United Nations said Nauru was failing to protect children. The 17-page report published by the UN has also highlighted the lack of basic services – like clean drinking water and mental health support – for the 70 children, who are among more than 500 asylum seekers held in Nauru.