Zipping, Waterboarding: How Australia Is Torturing Its Refugees

There are reports of waterboarding, sexual assault and exploitation, and child abuse being carried out against asylum-seekers on the islands of Manus and Nauru.


Australia already is known for its draconian immigration policies, but recent allegations of torture suggest the situation is worse than previously thought.

In a damning review of detention centers under the Australian government’s control, medical ethicists Dr. John-Paul Sanggaran, of the University of New South Wales, and professor Deborah Zion, of Victoria University, have pointed out that there’s “increasing evidence that Australia is engaged in torturing asylum seekers.”

From waterboarding to child sexual exploitation, inmates are being subject to mass abuses. Experts also claimed they also found evidence of “zipping,” a torture technique in which a person is tied to a metal bed that is thrown into the air then allowed to crash in order to cause pain and injury.

“There are allegations of situations, circumstances and actions that also constitute cruel and unusual punishment throughout Australian immigration detention,” the experts wrote in a paper published in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

At one camp, they found evidence “of waterboarding, familiar to most as a torture technique that simulates drowning used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in places like Guantanamo bay.”

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There are two main detention facilities, on the islands of Manus and Nauru, which are both outside of Australia (in order to avoid its humanitarian laws.) The Australian government forbids any kind of reporting on the sites and prevents doctors attending asylum-seekers from speaking out.

The authors of the review noted how this secretive structure prevents information of any human rights abuses come to the attention of the public.

“In this way, those who control the collection and dissemination of information, in this case successive Australian governments extinguish evidence of the suffering of those in the present and silence their voices for all time,” they added.

Australia is among the countries that have barely done anything to deal with the ongoing refugee crisis. In fact, the government has been spending millions in attempts to illegally return the refugees and discourage them from embarking on a journey to the country.  

Their “boat turnback” policy sets a precedent for other countries, where thousands of refugees fleeing from conflicted areas were forced to return or seek refugee somewhere else.

While some of them were abused on the boats, others were shot, thrown into the sea and left to drown. Some even died because of diseases, lack of nutrition and dehydration.

Read More: Australia Won't Help Refugees But Spends Millions To Keep Them Out