Immigration detention time on Nauru and Manus at record high
New figures show the time asylum seekers spend in Australian offshore immigration detention has hit a record high under the Turnbull government, at an average of 446 days.
New figures show the time asylum seekers spend in Australian immigration detention on Nauru and Manus Island has hit a record high under the Turnbull government, at an average of 446 days.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection statistics show the figure has increased steadily since May 2015, and is more than double the wait under the Labor government.
It also shows nearly a quarter of detainees (23.3 percent) spend more than two years (750 days) in the centres.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre's detention rights advocate, Pamela Curr, told Mary Baines these figures are very concerning.
PAMELA CURR: We've got a situation now where nearly 50 percent of the people in detention have been in there for more than a year. I know people who have just spent their seventh Christmas in detention. And the conditions in the detention centres since the border force took over have become more and more punitive.
MARY BAINES: What do you put this increase in the length of time asylum seekers are spending in detention down to? Why is this happening?
PC: This is part of the deterrence policy - by leaving people in detention for a long time the government is hoping they will report back to families from where they fled. We are detaining people unnecessarily. We have got people in detention now who are refugee positive, that means they have gone through the process, they have been found to be refugees, they have been security cleared, they have been health cleared - all that is required is that the minister signs their release document. And successive ministers are refusing to do that.
MB: So what kind of effect is this long term detention having on people?
PC: The people I know, and I visit a number of detention centres, they are invariably on anti depressant medication, many have got physical conditions, and they are on exorbitant amounts of pain relief. What happens is people deteriorate when they are denied their freedom.
MB: We've heard about the appalling conditions on Nauru and Manus Island [under Tony Abbott]. Has there been any improvement at these camps since Mr Turnbull came to power?
PC: There has been no change. And we continue to receive reports not only of men being bashed up and women being sexually harassed and raped, but as we saw last week children who are now forced to go to the local school because the camp school has been closed down, a little five-year-old was urinated on by a gang of Nauruan kids. We see reports of refugee children being harassed for sexual favours. This is shocking, shocking stuff. And it is beyond the comprehension of many Australians that our government says nothing.
MB: Has Mr Turnbull said anything about why people are being kept in detention for so long?
PC: The Prime Minister has tried to remain aloof from these devastating statistics. But the Immigration Minister has inferred that these people are dangerous. Well there are 91 children and babies amongst these people. I know many of them. They are not dangerous. Why are they still in detention? Their parents have no security concerns. Why are they still in detention? We keep asking, and we get no answers.
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