14 Oct 2015

Release of alleged Nauru rape victim's name criticised

10:01 am on 14 October 2015

An Australian rape crisis group says the Nauru government's decision to release the name of a woman who says she was raped sends a clear message to other women on the island.

The barren and bankrupt island state of the Republic of Nauru awaits the arrival of refugees, 11 September 2001. Just 25 square kilometres, Nauru has been devastated by phosphate mining which once made the Micronesians the second wealthiest people per capita on earth. AFP PHOTO/Torsten BLACKWOOD

The Republic of Nauru Photo: AFP

The police report of the incident, including the woman's name and location, was attached to a press release sent by the Nauru government.

Karen Willis, who is the executive officer at Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia, says this is an attempt on behalf of the police to undermine and humiliate her.

"My guess is what this is doing is sending an incredibly clear message to every other woman in that location, that if you've experienced sexual assault, this is potentially what's going to happen to you, so you should be very quiet and that is absolutely not the message that we ever want to be getting out there in relation to sexual assault."

Ms Willis says she holds grave concerns for the woman's safety as a result of this privacy breach.

"I hold grave concerns for her safety. I also hold grave concerns for her safety in terms of the security and the police there. If they're willing to undermine and humiliate her in that way, I do wonder what else they might be willing to do."

The police say there is no legal reason to suppress her name because there is no evidence to indicate a crime was committed.

They have closed the investigation into the case.

The spokesperson for Australian-based Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul, says the situation confirms questions about the reliability of the Nauru police in responding to refugee claims of sexual assault.

"It proves and confirms the question marks that the international community and certainly the Refugee Action Coalition and other people have about the reliability of the police. You have a situation where people on Nauru, refugees on Nauru will not go to the police to make complaints because they know that they are dismissed or worse. And unfortunately the Nauru government's actions in releasing this police report has simply confirmed just how much the police are a vehicle of the political motivations of the Nauruan government."