Pacific

Rights groups: Australia ignoring abuse at refugee camps

  • FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2001, file photo, refugees, right, gather on one side of a fence to talk with international journalists about their journey that brought them to the Island of Nauru. Human rights groups accused Australia on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016, of deliberately ignoring the abuse of asylum seekers being held at the remote Pacific island detention camp in a bid to deter future refugees from trying to reach the country by boat. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2001, file photo, refugees, right, gather on one side of a fence to talk with international journalists about their journey that brought them to the Island of Nauru. Human rights groups accused Australia on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016, of deliberately ignoring the abuse of asylum seekers being held at the remote Pacific island detention camp in a bid to deter future refugees from trying to reach the country by boat. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2001, file photo, men shave, brush their teeth and prepare for the day at a refugee camp on the Island of Nauru. Human rights groups accused Australia on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016, of deliberately ignoring the abuse of asylum seekers being held at the remote Pacific island detention camp in a bid to deter future refugees from trying to reach the country by boat. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2001, file photo, men shave, brush their teeth and prepare for the day at a refugee camp on the Island of Nauru. Human rights groups accused Australia on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016, of deliberately ignoring the abuse of asylum seekers being held at the remote Pacific island detention camp in a bid to deter future refugees from trying to reach the country by boat. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)  (The Associated Press)

Human rights groups have accused Australia of deliberately ignoring the alleged abuse of asylum seekers being held at a remote Pacific island detention facility in a bid to deter future refugees from trying to reach the country by boat.

In a scathing report released Wednesday, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said asylum seekers on the Pacific island nation of Nauru are routinely denied critical medical care, frequently attempt suicide and endure physical assaults by locals that go unpunished.

Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection said it "strongly refutes" many of the allegations in the report.

Australia refuses to accept any asylum seekers who attempt to reach its shores by boat. Instead, it pays Nauru and the Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea to hold them.