July 02, 2013
The Department of Immigration has confirmed a 16-year-old boy has ended a five-day hunger strike at the Pontville Detention Centre, near Hobart.
The department says the teenager was seen eating food last night.
The boy, who is from Afghanistan, called the ABC on Sunday raising concerns about his detention for seven months.
His case has reignited debate about the detention of children.
The President of Australia’s Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, wants Australia’s new Immigration Minister to release children from detention centres.
Tony Burke is meeting officials from the Immigration Department in Canberra this morning.
Professor Triggs says releasing the 1,800 children across Australia from immigration detention should be his first priority.
“I think it’s very straight forward, it should be to release the children and particularly unaccompanied minors into appropriate community detention, but get them out of the concrete camps and the wire,” she said.
More than 200 males, mostly aged between 15 and 18, have been relocated to Pontville since it reopened last year.
Twenty-six detainees have been in closed detention for eight or nine months.
Australia’s Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell, who visited Pontville last week, said the policy yesterday contravened the UN convention on the rights of the child.
Ms Mitchell said she had concerns about the mental health of several Pontville detainees.
The hunger strike has also prompted claims Pontville had become a dumping ground for unaccompanied minors.
Sophie Peer from children’s advocacy group ChilOut said yesterday the teenager’s situation showed that the time it takes to process asylum claims from young people was unacceptable.
“Pontville has unfortunately become a dumping ground for unaccompanied minors.”
“He is in a desperate situation clearly,” she said.