Catholics In Coalition for Justice and Peace

Blog Post

Australia's onshore detention system slammed by Human Rights Commission

Posted 27 Jun 2019 09:00AM

The Australian onshore immigration detention system is becoming “more and more like prison” and unlike similar operations any other liberal democracy. 

 
The Australian Human Rights Commission has released its latest report which examines risk management in detention in onshore immigration.
 
 “Australia’s system of mandatory immigration detention continues to result in people being detained when there is no valid justification for their ongoing detention under international law.”
 
The report found that amid a growing proportion of people being detained on “character grounds” and corresponding structural changes to make centres more secure, 
all detainees, including young female asylum seekers, were being subject to harsher and harsher treatment.
 
“Australia really is unlike any other liberal democracy in the immigration detention system, it is especially restrictive and especially harsh,” said commissioner Edward Santow. 
 
The report found Australia is also now holding people for longer – an average of around 500 days, which Santow said “should not be considered acceptable”.
 
Canada’s average length of closed immigration detention didn’t exceed one month between 2012-13 and 2017-18, and 80% of the people leaving UK detention between 2012 and 2017 had been held for two months or less.
 
The Commission is especially concerned about the following issues:
 
- Inaccurate risk assessments may result in people in detention being subject to restrictions that are not warranted in their individual circumstances.
 
- The use of restraints during escort outside detention facilities has become routine, and may in some cases be disproportionate to the risk of absconding.
 
- Conditions in high-security accommodation compounds and single separation units are typically harsh, restrictive and prison-like.
 
- Restrictions relating to excursions, personal items and external visits are applied on a blanket basis, regardless of whether they are necessary in a person’s  individual circumstances.
 
- Australia’s system of mandatory immigration detention, combined with Ministerial guidelines that preclude the consideration of community alternatives to detention for certain groups, continues to result in people being detained when there is no valid justification for their ongoing detention under international law.
 
More information can be found on the AHRC website: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/