Friday January 9 2004 12:00 noon WST
For Immediate Release
"It is becoming clear that the Australian government is "leaning on" the Nauruan government - communication from independent medical advocates show they are suspecting this - that the Nauruan government has already "been gagged", less than 24 hours after it welcomed an independent AMA delegation to travel to Nauru for independent medical assessment and reporting."
"It should be evident to all Australians that medical staff employed by IOM, the International Organisation for Migration, act as agents for the Australian government, have an agenda of "being seen to do a 'nice job' for the government", to underplay their assessments, and keep any adverse findings under wraps."
"IOM is not an independent organisation that puts refugees first, when it has an extremely lucrative contract with a partisan government intent of maintaining secrecy on Nauru, where it has banned scrutiny by the media, lawyers and independent medical teams. If the Howard government does not want anybody peeking into its Nauru hell, then it follows that IOM sides with this government approach."
"The government's assurance issued through Foreign affairs Minister Alexander Downer and Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone, that it will send its own Commonwealth "senior officials" to Nauru, cannot be trusted, firstly because it is a manipulative reply to the AMA plans, and secondly because it is an all too familiar pattern, designed to keep control out of independent hands, and it creates another round of obfuscation, where it can tell Nauru as well as the Australian people "that it does whatever it can" while a true assessment of the state of affairs on Nauru will never come into the hands of the Australian public."
"The government stands condemned, and its approach is likely to only renew the hunger strikers intentions to renew their protest: they clearly stated that they were prepared to cease their hunger strike because the Nauruan government had made the offer to work with the AMA team and get them to visit Nauru including the detention centre."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]