Australian Immigration Detention Centre Deemed Unfit, Unsafe by Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission's report on Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre reveals deteriorating conditions, unsafe environment, and inadequate healthcare, urging urgent action to address these issues and protect detainees' rights.

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Australian Immigration Detention Centre Deemed Unfit, Unsafe by Human Rights Commission

Australian Immigration Detention Centre Deemed Unfit, Unsafe by Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission has released a report following an inspection of the Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre in Western Australia, finding that parts of the facility are "no longer suitable" and that a majority of detainees and staff feel unsafe due to increased violence, bullying, and drug trafficking. The report, based on a two-day inspection conducted in May 2023, highlights deteriorating conditions and inadequate access to healthcare services at the adult male detention centre located about 100 kilometres east of Perth.

According to the report, inspectors found a rise in behaviors associated with the prison system, such as the trafficking of drugs and other contraband, bullying, and violence. Some detainees reported being harassed or intimidated by staff and were afraid to speak out due to threats of points deductions. The commission also noted concerns about inadequate health care, including a lack of access to emergency, out-of-hours, and mental health services, which presented a significant risk to detainees.

Why this matters: The findings of the Australian Human Rights Commission's report on the Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre raise serious concerns about the treatment and well-being of detainees in Australia's immigration detention system. The report underscores the need for urgent action to address the deteriorating conditions and ensure that the human rights of those in detention are respected and protected.

The commission made 33 recommendations to the Department of Home Affairs to improve conditions at Yongah Hill and other immigration detention centers, including reducing the use of physical restraints, increasing staff, and bolstering search powers. The Home Affairs department accepted or partially agreed with 20 of the recommendations and disagreed with seven, with the remaining six requiring government consideration.

The report emphasized the need to ensure community safety while also respecting the human rights of those in immigration detention. The commission noted that the cohort of people in immigration detention has changed significantly, with the average time spent in detention being much higher than in other countries. The inspection came six months before a High Court ruling that unlawful non-citizens could not be kept in indefinite immigration detention.

In response to the report, the Home Affairs department rejected several of the commission's recommendations, including an independent review of healthcare services and a ban on the use of spit hoods. The report highlights the ongoing challenges and concerns within Australia's immigration detention system, with the commission calling for urgent action to address the issues at the Yongah Hill centre and ensure the safety and well-being of detainees and staff.

Key Takeaways

  • Australian Human Rights Commission report found Yongah Hill detention center unfit
  • Increased violence, drug trafficking, and inadequate healthcare services at the center
  • Commission made 33 recommendations, Home Affairs accepted or partially agreed with 20
  • Detention center cohort has changed, with longer average detention times than other countries
  • Home Affairs rejected recommendations for independent healthcare review and banning spit hoods