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Questions remain over undelivered letters addressed to Nauru detainees



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SENATOR CATRYNA BILYK DEPUTY OPPOSITION WHIP IN THE SENATE SENATOR FOR TASMANIA

QUESTIONS REMAIN OVER UNDELIVERED LETTERS ADDRESSED TO NAURU DETAINEES

Senator Catryna Bilyk said that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection had today failed to clearly explain why thousands of letters of support addressed to asylum seekers at the Nauru Offshore Processing Centre had failed to be delivered.

Refugee advocate, Julian Burnside QC, had organised the letters from Australian letter writers so they could establish a dialogue with detainees and offer them hope and moral support.

Senator Bilyk called on the Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, to investigate the Department’s failure to deliver the letters.

“Minister Dutton must explain why offshore detainees are being denied the right to communicate with the outside world,” Senator Bilyk said. “He must confirm or deny Mr Burnside’s claim that this is a calculated attempt to ‘break the spirit’ of the detainees.”

Senator Bilyk questioned the Department about the matter in Budget Estimates today, but the Department took most of the questions on notice.

“It is now 11 months since Mr Burnside started asking questions about this matter. It is disgraceful that despite ongoing email exchanges with Mr Burnside the Department still struggled to answer the most basic questions,” Senator Bilyk said.

“It beggars belief that of the thousands of letters sent it appears that not one was responded to by a Nauru detainee.

“This is just another example of the lack of transparency around the operation of Australia’s offshore detention facilities.”

TUESDAY, 26 MAY 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: DANIEL HULME 0447 000 867