17 Jun 2011

Refugee advocate slams Nauru over its push to reopen detention camp

5:53 am on 17 June 2011

An Australian human rights lawyer has launched a stinging criticism of Nauru's efforts to make itself more presentable as a site to house asylum seekers.

Nauru earlier this week indicated it was close to ratifying the UN refugee convention.

It has previously indicated a willingness to look at a re-opening of the Australian run camp, which processed hundreds of asylum seekers between 2001 and 2008.

Lawyer, Eric Vadarlis, who worked for the refugees on Nauru, says the island's government is worried about missing out on money.

He says he is suspicious of the timing of the announcement, coinciding with the Australian opposition leader's recent visit to Nauru and the Gillard government's negotiations with Malaysia over refugee accommodation.

"I think it's disgraceful and inhumane. You know this country that's bankrupt is trying to get into the refugee business. Because that's really what they are. They're an accommodation service, or they want to be an accommodation service, for the Australian Government. And the only way they can get in because of the political heat is to join the convention. I mean they've got no idea of what it means. How are they going to administer it? I mean the country's just bankrupt basically, they've got no money, nothing."