Immigration detention facilities on Christmas Island not appropriate for asylum seekers

Immigration detention facilities on Christmas Island not appropriate for asylum seekers

The Australian Human Rights Commission holds serious concerns about the appropriateness of holding asylum seekers in immigration detention on Christmas Island as outlined in the report, Immigration Detention on Christmas Island 2012.

Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs visited Christmas Island from October 9 to12 to assess the conditions of detention against internationally accepted human rights standards.

“The Commission has ongoing concerns about the prison-like nature of the Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre, and the inappropriateness of lower security facilities on the island for accommodating families with children and unaccompanied minors,” said Professor Triggs.

“There were approximately 2,000 people in immigration detention on Christmas Island at the time of this visit. The Commission found that there was significant overcrowding in immigration detention facilities on Christmas Island, most noticeably in Aqua Compound and the Construction Camp. Overcrowding has a negative impact on the living conditions for many people, particularly those accommodated in dormitory bedrooms.”

“The very large number of people detained in immigration detention facilities on Christmas Island has placed strain on access to facilities and services in all immigration detention facilities, including communication facilities, recreational facilities, educational activities and opportunities for people to leave the detention environment on external excursions.”

Children continue to be subjected to mandatory detention on Christmas Island, in breach of Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

“Families with children and unaccompanied minors are detained in closed immigration detention facilities on Christmas Island. In the Commission’s view, none of these facilities provide an appropriate environment for families with children or unaccompanied minors,” said President Triggs.

President Triggs also said at the time of the Commission’s visit, a mix of single adult men and families with children were being detained in the Aqua Compound, the co-location of different groups of people posing a risk to safety of women and children.

President Triggs notes, DIAC officers and staff members of detention service providers are clearly working under considerable pressures on Christmas Island, caused by a range of factors. These include the large number of people in detention, the uncertainty amongst the detention population due to the prospect of transfer to a third country for processing of their asylum claims, and infrastructure constraints and logistical difficulties resulting from the small size and remoteness of the island.

The Commission acknowledges the efforts made by staff to ensure that people in detention are treated appropriately despite the challenging circumstances.

Click here for the report.

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