Record number of children held in centres

June 16, 2013

The number of asylum-seeker children held in closed immigration detention is at an all-time high – despite the Gillard government’s policy that they should not be held in detention centres.

Home:  Asylum- seeker children at Lombrum Naval Base, Manus Island.Home: Asylum-seeker children at Lombrum Naval Base, Manus Island. Photo: Angela Wylie

The number of asylum-seeker children  held in closed immigration detention is at an all-time high – despite the Gillard government’s policy that they should not be held in detention centres.

Almost 2000 children are being held on Manus Island, Christmas and Cocos Islands and in other closed detention areas around the country, attracting  criticism from advocacy groups and politicians.

The figures  are even greater than when former immigration minister Chris Bowen said the aim was for the ‘‘majority’’ of children to be out of detention by June 2011.

"We are suffering on Manus. It is a tortura for us.": The caption on a 10 year old Iranian girl's picture.“We are suffering on Manus. It is a tortura for us.”: The caption on a 10 year old Iranian girl’s picture.

Refugee Council of Australia president Phil Glendenning said the high number of children in detention  represented ‘‘a fundamental failure of policy’’.

Advertisement

‘‘The needs of children have to be more important,’’ he said.

‘‘Both sides of politics have let the Australian people down and let children down. Detention is no place for children. We are not a country that incarcerates children.’’

Statistics released by the the Department of Immigration show  that as of last Monday, the department was processing protection claims for 3235 children,  1383 of whom were in community detention.

The remaining 1852 children are in closed facilities including ‘‘alternative places of detention, immigration residential housing or immigration transit accommodation’’.

The immigration detention statistics summary report for April 30  shows  there were 566 children  on Christmas Island but the department did not  say how many are on Manus or Cocos Islands.

GetUp! is running a campaign to get the children released. National director  Sam McLean said their plight   could not remain out of sight and out of mind. ‘‘Australians need to speak up about this issue. If you are not fighting the treatment of these children you are condoning that treatment.’’

Children are also being kept in some of Australia’s most remote areas including at the  Curtin detention centre in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

They are also at Leonora, in the  Goldfields region of Western Australia, and Wickham Point, 35kilometres outside Darwin.

Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor said: ‘‘People are initially detained so they can be processed for security, identity and health reasons. Once this is done they are released into the community as soon as possible, with children a priority. Special purpose-built family accommodation provides children with a secure environment, education, health and support services while this process takes place.

‘‘The government’s aim has been to accommodate the majority of children in community detention,’’ the minister said on Saturday.

‘‘There are no children on Cocos Island and only in purpose-built family accommodation in the other places mentioned,’’ he said.

Opposition spokesman on immigration Scott Morrison said the Gllard government had the worst record of any government when it came  to children in detention.He said there were now more children in detention than when the government announced its policy change in 2010.

The revelations about the numbers come a decade after an inquiry by the Australian Human Rights Commission    into children in immigration detention found  children had suffered  repeated breaches of their human rights.

Commission president Gillian Triggs has said she has serious concerns about families with children  detained at the Wickham Point and Curtin detention facilities.

Commonwealth Ombudsman Colin Neave has determined    lower-security detention   continues to constitute ‘‘immigration detention under the act, and involves a restriction on the liberty and movement of the child.’’

Source: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/political-news/record-number-of-children-held-in-centres-20130615-2ob9k.html

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Detention Centers, Human Rights and Refugee Activists, Torturing and Health Issues

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s