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Wednesday, 22 October 2014
 
 
ASIO did not require the detention of people during security assessment PDF Print E-mail

"It is not a requirement under the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 that irregular maritime arrivals (IMAs) remain in detention during the security assessment process. The detention of IMAs is managed by the DIAC, in accordance with Australian Government policy." ASIO ANNUAL REPORT 2011

Another senseless, tragic death in detention

The man who took his life last night in Villawood was a refugee waiting for a security check.

He had been through the rigorous Australian refugee process and found to be a refugee to whom Australia owed protection. Rest in peace Shooty - your death will not be in vain.

Why was he still in detention? That is a question for the Government. In answer to the question - "Does ASIO require irregular maritime arrivals to remain in detention whilst it undertakes its security assessment?" - ASIO has unequivocally stated:

"It is not a requirement under the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 that irregular maritime arrivals (IMAs) remain in detention during the security assessment process. The detention of IMAs is managed by the DIAC, in accordance with Australian Government policy." ASIO ANNUAL REPORT 2011

The Government and the Department of Immigration were informed 18 months ago that ASIO did not require the detention of people during this time. ASIO in frustration put it in their annual report publicly two weeks ago.

So we are left to ask why there are 1,591* refugees unnecessarily in detention awaiting security checks when they have been found to be refugees including the man who lost hope about 3:00am this morning and took his life.

This man had begged to be allowed into community detention. He had Australian friends ready to provide him with accommodation and care. The Department and the Minister knew this and yet chose to keep him in detention. His coronial inquiry will reveal the level of arbitrary abuse which the detention system imposed on this man.

This man died last night because he was in detention.

We are left to ask – how many must die before the Government acts? Is there some arbitrary figure on the Minister's desk at which he will say enough?

The Government has a choice – they can continue long-term detention or they can expand what they have started and release people into community detention on bridging visas. From February to June 1,500 people were quietly released into the community through community detention while their claims are processed - the sky did not fall in. It worked - the community response was fantastic and people's health improved the day they walked out of detention.

There are currently thousands of asylum seekers living in the community on bridging visas throughout Australia while undergoing the refugee determination process. While life is certainly tough for them, they have their freedom and are not detained. Community processing works and is something all asylum seekers should be offered. Detention is against the Government's own detention values, is arbitrary and is harmful – as Shooty's unnecessary death has proven.

I have personally seen the effect that freedom has on people who were detained. A few weeks ago I walked out of a flat in Brisbane with a man who had been released a few days earlier. Even though he was suffering depression and fearful for his family, he looked up at the night sky and raising his arms said, "Look, now I am a free human, before I was animal." I have seen teenagers who were suicidal change into young people able to look after themselves, go to school and resume living when released from detention.

On June 30 there were 1,500 people in community detention - now there are just over 1,100. DIAC will say that 400 have been granted visas and moved on – true, but the empty places have not been filled by others suffering in detention. There are still hundreds of children in detention, not to mention thousands of sick, suicidal adults. People are being admitted to hospital and then sent back to detention even when their doctors state clearly that detention was a major cause of their illness and that a return to detention will cause a relapse.

"It is our feeling that should he be made to return to detention ...he stands a significant risk of rapid and full relapse of his condition. Hence it is our strong recommendation that this man be considered for community detention."

"It is my opinion that returning him to a detention centre would be associated with a high risk of relapse... I therefore recommend that consideration be given to community detention."

Both these men were returned to detention.

There are many vested interests in the detention industry. Many people, including SERCO and DIAC staff, are making the sort of money they will never see in their lives again. Guards on $2,100 per week and DIAC staff earning $100 per day extra on top of their salaries. Many contractors - food suppliers, private airlines, architects, engineers and building companies, global healthcare companies etc - are involved in this trough and these voices are fighting hard against community processing for financial reasons. These voices claim that people will not be supported in the community and that detention is better. A man who had his leg amputated recently was returned to detention using this argument.

This Government has a choice – releasing people into the community for the processing of their claims or keeping the detention industry rich while peoples' spirits shrivel and die. Six suicides and seven deaths in detention since Labor took office is a brutal legacy.

* Information in Question 6 supplied to Joint Parliamentary Inquiry by DIAC

Pamela Curr is the campaign coordinator at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3601600.html

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