Migrant fined for Nauru suicide bid

The Pacific island of NauruImage copyright

Image caption

The island nation of Nauru holds migrants while Australia processes their asylum claims

An Iranian asylum seeker has been fined for trying to kill himself during an attempt to move him and his daughter from an Australian-funded detention centre on the island of Nauru.

Sam Nemati, sole guardian of the eight-year-old girl, admitted the charge and was ordered to pay A$200 ($155; £109).

Mr Nemati had been in the detention centre for two years.

Australia relocates undocumented migrants trying to reach the country by boat to Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Nauru is a small Pacific island nation about 3,000 km (1,800 miles) north-east of Australia.

‘Method of protest’

Prosecutors had originally sought a two-month custodial sentence for Mr Nemati, arguing that such a sentence could be used as a deterrent, Australian media report.

“We are concerned that this method of protest is being used and want to stamp out this practice,” prosecutors said.

The pair moved to Nibok Lodge in January, where Mr Nemati said his daughter would have more children to play with.

However, the authorities said they were not authorised to live there, and moved to evict the pair on 21 January.

Mr Nemati became distressed when officers began removing his belongings, and attempted to take his own life.

He was taken to hospital for medical treatment before being charged and subsequently detained for two weeks in February.

Old penal code

The law against attempted suicide in Nauru is based on the 1899 Queensland Criminal Code.

However, while Queensland has since repealed that particular law, attempted suicide remains illegal in Nauru.

Other existing offences under the code include witchcraft, sorcery and fortune-telling.

Australia and asylum

  • The number of asylum seekers travelling to Australia by boat rose sharply in 2012 and early 2013. Scores of people have died making the journey.
  • To stop the influx, the government adopted tough measures intended as a deterrent
  • Everyone who arrives is detained. Under the policy, asylum seekers are processed offshore at centres such as Nauru
  • The government has also adopted a policy of tow-backs, or turning boats around

Why is Australia’s asylum policy controversial?

In early February, the High Court upheld Australia’s asylum policy as legal under the country’s constitution.

The ruling paved the way for around 267 people, including 37 babies, to be deported to Nauru.

comments powered by Disqus