Nauru and the ABC clash over refugee documentary

File image of detainees on Nauru Source: AAP

The ABC and the Nauru government have clashed over a Four Corners documentary into the plight of refugee children amid accusations the youngsters were coached.

The Nauru government says the report is an embarrassment to journalism and from start to finish it's denigrating, racist, false and pure political activism.

"Last night’s Four Corners program on the ABC was yet another example of the ABC’s biased political propaganda and lies, and was an insult to the people of Nauru," the Republic of Nauru said in a statement.

"It was clear that these children were coached, and that the entire process of filming the refugees was stage-managed, as the program has not been to Nauru. Despite this, viewers could clearly see that the refugees featured were well dressed, well-groomed and healthy.

The Nauru government said it believed the ABC would air anything that would "influence the Australian Government to bring them to Australia - a goal that motivated them to pay large amounts of money to people smugglers – which includes making false claims against the Nauruan people."

The show aired footage of Nauruans belting each other up but the government maintains Nauru is not a violent country and has a lower crime rate than Australia.

The ABC has dismissed claims by the Nauru government that its Four Corners program coached refugee children for its documentary about the plight of detained youngsters.

The government says interviews with the children were evidently stage-managed, as the program has not been to Nauru.

But the national broadcaster says it had to conduct remote interviews because of restrictions placed on journalists by the Nauru government, and that the program had fact-checked the children's stories before broadcast.

Absolutely false, PM says of Nauru torture claims

Malcolm Turnbull has flatly rejected claims by Amnesty International the treatment of refugees on Nauru amounts to deliberate and systematic torture.

"I reject that claim totally ... it is absolutely false," the prime minister told ABC radio on Tuesday.

Amnesty International has accused Australia of running an open-air prison on the Pacific island nation.

Anna Neistat, its senior director for research who travelled to Nauru in July, accused the federal government of deliberate abuse.

"We have a system where people have to be subjected to extreme levels of suffering so that others who try to seek asylum in Australia are not tempted to do so," she said.

"In our assessment that pretty much amounts to torture."

Mr Turnbull insisted his government's commitment to border protection was compassionate and strong.

"What we've been able to do is to stop the boats, no deaths at sea," he said.

"We've reduced the children in detention from almost 2000 when we came into office to zero."

Mr Turnbull said the Australian government provided significant support to Nauru for welfare, health and education services.

The prime minister revealed Immigration Minister Peter Dutton offered himself for a live interview on Four Corners - where the allegations were aired - on Monday night.

"That was rejected," he said.

During an earlier Senate estimates hearing immigration department boss Michael Pezzullo was grilled about Amnesty's report.

"I refute categorically ... that we flout any laws international or otherwise," he told the hearing, adding he found the torture claims personally offensive.

Mr Pezzullo said he understood the legal and philosophical definition of torture and categorically denied that was practised as part of Australia's offshore processing regime.

Source AAP, SBS News

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