Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Archival Rescue 25 ~ Aus Detention

The thing is, locking people up and detaining people is a bit like that old saying 'if we give you one, everyone will want one"...

And that's the way it is with John Howard, let him detain one person in a camp and he'll want to detain everybody in camps.

Detention centres, whether offshore or hidden away in the outback, are unacceptable. Not a single person should be kept in these conditions, under any circumstance. It's just not on John, even Costello thinks it's intolerant.

Unless Howard and Vanstone are trying to sell the idea that some sheep are more equal then others a "free" Australia is an illusion.

Australia's detention centers are 21st century concentration camps. Now associated with WWII, the 20th century term was coined in the late 1890's-early 1900's (Cuban and Boer war years) for any camp in which people were held "in concentration". And that is exactly what Australia's detention centers are doing today.

Australia will never be able to project an up to date international profile while it's domestic policy sinks backwards, stinking of holding camps and reverting to the penal colony that Australia was 200 years ago.

Mentally ill detainees sent packing
By Joseph Kerr, May 3, 2005 Sydney Morning Herald

Three people, including one Australian resident, have been deported from Villawood detention centre in the past two years despite suffering mental illnesses, according to a refugee advocate.

The Australian resident, a man of African origin, is believed to have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and a Lebanese man and a Filipina on valid bridging visas were also deported in recent years, Ngareta Rossell said.

It is believed that the Lebanese man suffered from schizophrenia, and the Filipina from severe depression.

The three cases are in addition to the Australian citizen, identified by the acting Immigration Minister, Peter McGauran, at the weekend, who was deported in 2001 and is now being searched for overseas by Government officers.

That case has been referred to former Australian Federal Police chief Mick Palmer for investigation as part of his inquiries into the Cornelia Rau affair, in which a mentally ill German-born Australian resident was detained by immigration authorities for months.

Ms Rau was kept in the Baxter detention centre, sometimes in solitary confinement, despite advice from a psychiatrist that she may have been suffering from schizophrenia.

A spokesman for the Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, said the department was not able to identify the cases referred to by Ms Rossell from the limited information provided yesterday. A number of cases had been given to Mr Palmer for consideration, and he would choose which cases to examine more closely.

The refugee co-ordinator for Amnesty International Australia, Graham Thom, said the Palmer inquiry - which has now been expanded by Mr McGauran to include "any other cases involving Australian citizens or other people lawfully in Australia who have been subject to detention or removal" - needed to be public.

"If their assessment is so bad that they're actually removing Australian citizens and they don't know about it, what guarantee can we have that they're not sending people back and putting their lives at risk," said Dr Thom.

Yesterday the Australian Greens called on the Government to release information on unlawful detentions.

In February, Greens senator Kerry Nettle asked the department for figures on the number of people unlawfully detained, their nationalities and how long they had been detained. She also sought figures on how much compensation has been paid for unlawful detention.

"The Government obviously now knows the answers to these questions, yet it refuses to make this information public," she said.

A statement from the department said it had received about 200 questions on notice, some with multiple sub-questions, during the Senate estimates hearing on February 15 and 18.


  • Refugee advocates claim three more people in detention, including one Australian resident and two on valid visas, were wrongly deported.
  • All three are claimed to have been suffering mental illness.
  • The cases will be examined by the Palmer inquiry into the Cornelia Rau affair.


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