Last month, the Nauru government defended the country’s compliance with Australian offshore detention and processing of refugees.

In 2012 and 2013, the Australian and Nauruan governments signed Memoranda of Understanding, which designated Nauru as a “regional processing country” for all asylum seekers arriving in Australia, including many unaccompanied children.  By signing the Memoranda of Understanding, Nauru agreed to hold Australian asylum seekers, but Nauru has held the asylum seekers in detention facilities throughout the country.

As a result, the Human Rights Watch states that the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child found numerous human rights violations relating to the treatment of refugee children and children seeking asylum, including “intimidation, sexual assault, actual or threatened violence, and other inhuman and degrading treatment.”  These acts are generally unreported because of the limited capacity of the Nauru police to investigate reports of sexual assault and other violent acts against the children.

Under the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child, which Nauru and Australia both signed, States have an obligation to uphold the rights of refugee children.  Unfortunately, these recent acts have violated more than several of the articles under the Convention.  For example, these acts violate Article 3 of the Convention, which states: “[P]arties shall ensure that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by competent authorities, particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision.”

The two countries are jointly responsible for ensuring their commitments to the UN Convention and upholding the rights of the refugee children.