Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has provided his first response to Wednesday's leaking of thousands of files alleging abuse of children and adults at Nauru in an interview with radio station 2GB. Despite the severity of incidents reported on some of the leaked documents, the minister's tone was more accusatory than apologetic.
Dutton dismissed public outcry surrounding the documents, which include details about cases of assault, abuse, and self-harm that took place at the Nauru detention centre between 2013 and 2015. He called it "hype."
"Most of that's been reported before," the minister told the Sydney-based radio station.
During the interview Dutton also suggested refugees detained on Nauru might be lying about their experiences of abuse, suggesting refugees seeking asylum in Australia had reason to falsify reports of assault, sexual abuse, and self harm.
"I won't tolerate any sexual abuse whatsoever. But I have been made aware of some incidents that have been reported, false allegations of sexual assault, because in the end people have paid money to people smugglers and they want to come to our country," he said.
"Some people have even gone to the extent of self-harming and people have self-immolated in an effort to get to Australia, and certainly some have made false allegations in an attempt to get to Australia."
Minister Dutton's dismissive comments echoed the media statement released by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection yesterday, which played down the significance of the document leak.
"The documents published…are evidence of the rigorous reporting procedures that are in place in the regional processing centre—procedures under which any alleged incident must be recorded, reported and where necessary investigated," the Department said.
"Many of the incident reports reflect unconfirmed allegations or uncorroborated statements and claims—they are not statements of proven fact."
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