17 Apr 2015

Fears for asylum seekers over Australian bill

3:42 pm on 17 April 2015

A former Supreme Court judge in Australia says proposed new powers for security guards at immigration detention centres would allow them to beat asylum seekers to death with impunity.

The Australian government is seeking to make immigration officers largely immune from liability for using force on detainees, if it is believed necessary to protect others in detention or maintain good order.

In his submission to changes on Australia's Migration Act, Stephen Charles says he is horrified at the systematic abuse the Bill will allow to be inflicted on vulnerable people.

Mr Charles says the law would allow an officer to act in a way that would cause grievous bodily harm without criminal charge if it is believed the force was used "in good faith", or if it was "reasonably believed" it was necessary.

He says that is a subjective standard, and would allow for excessive force to be used in almost any circumstance.

Mr Charles says the amendments would make it harder to bring legal action against a guard who inflicted harm, and may even encourage it.

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Photo: AAP / Dept of Immigration and Citizenship

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