Earlier this month I wrote a short article highlighting Amnesty International’s assessment in progress of our detention centres. Amnesty’s report is now available.
I quote (emphasis added):
In order for Australia to meet international human rights standards, Amnesty International recommends the following:
- A maximum 30 day time limit is placed on the detention of asylum seekers, so that all asylum seekers are moved into the community once health, character and identity checks are complete.
- Immigration detention centres that are remote and isolated be shut down as soon as possible.
- The shift towards processing asylum seekers in the community is expedited, with long-term detainees, families and unaccompanied minors moved out as a priority.
- In all detention centres, but particularly remote ones, asylum seekers ability to communicate with the outside world must be significantly improved. Specifically, increases in access to both outbound and inbound telephones, Internet, external activities, and visits from the Australian community.
There is further discussion to be found on Amnesty’s Australian site: http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/27943/
The report is also covered in various newspapers, The Australian’s coverage can be found here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/amnesty-says-pull-your-centres-in-australia/story-fn3dxity-1226278880448
Another short extract from Amnesty’s report says:
The most serious and damaging conditions faced by men, woman and children in Australian immigration detention are the length of time and the indefinite nature of their imprisonment. It was overwhelmingly evident that the lack of an endpoint to their internment, coupled with the constant uncertainty, fear and monotony, is more than most people are able to cope with for an extended period – let alone people who are already survivors of torture and trauma.
Among the asylum seekers who had been in detention for extended periods, self harm and attempted suicides were talked about as a fact of life. The use of sleeping pills and other medication was also widespread, with many asylum seekers interviewed reported feeling like they needed medication to make it through each day, while at the same time anxious about the long term effects of their usage.
I urge everyone to read the report in full.
Regular followers of our journey will already know this topic is very close to my heart as Mr O was in detention for many, many days more than the 30 days recommended above. He wrote about some of his experience in Greetings from Mr O.
Yes, you will see media beat ups by some publications about how asylum seekers released into the community receive up to $10,000 of “gifts” from the Australian taxpayers. I can tell you from my own experience such articles are a massive misrepresentation of the reality. Recycled goods are provided by the Red Cross. Not what the headline implies at all.
Grant Williams has written articles recently about Bridging Visas, the first is about the hidden costs of Bridging Visas, and he has recently published an update. Very interesting reading. Many released from detention find themselves on Bridging Visas, so the topic is closely linked.
C’mon, Aussie, c’mon. Let’s get our Human Rights policies in order. We, as a nation, are better than this! Perhaps instead of writing my “H” article in Our A – Z of Australia about Health, Home and Happiness, I should have written about Human Rights in Australia. I’ll consider this the flip side of our “H” article.