Australia & World

Report on COVID-19 risk in immigrant detention encourages closure of Christmas Island facility

The federal government will reduce the number of migrant detainees on Christmas Island and close facilities as part of a recommendation from a new report showing that the number of Australian detainees has increased after the COVID-19 pandemic. Is required.

In a report examining the management of COVID-19 risk in migrant detention, the Australian Commission on Human Rights issued 20 recommendations to the federal government to better protect people in migrant detention from viruses. ..

A report released Wednesday shows that the number of Australian migrant detainees increased by 11 percent in the six months to November 2020.

By comparison, the numbers in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States during similar periods decreased by 39.5, 66.3, and 69 percent, respectively.

The report found that the number of people detained in Australia has increased since the onset of the pandemic.


The report states that the average time spent in private migrant detention in Australia continues to increase. Ministry of Interior The average length of stay in March 2021 was 641 days, the highest ever.

Human rights commissioner Edward Santol said the ministry must urgently release people with low security risks to community-based alternatives.

“One of the important recommendations we make is to reduce the number of migrant detentions, because it will allow the remaining people to practice physical distance,” he said. I told the news.

“Immigrant detention can be a very difficult experience. We know that the risk of COVID-19 is high in migrant detention, so take an approach that maximizes the human rights of those in custody. Is very important. “

Immigration detention facilities, like other detention centers, are described as a high-risk environment for the spread of COVID-19.

According to AHRC reports, some of the facilities used for quarantine within the Immigration Bureau are “harsh and prison-like,” with no or very access to natural light, fresh air, and outdoor spaces. Limited to.

Mr. Santol said he was concerned about the “operational quarantine” procedure in which detainees were detained two weeks after their off-site appointment.

“There is an example of what we are very worried about. Someone in immigration is told that when they go out to make a medical appointment, they need to spend 14 days in a place called operational quarantine when they come back. It should not be used unless there is a clear and strong public health justification for quarantine. “

The report also recommends abolishing all detention facilities on Christmas Island “as an urgent matter.”

Wednesday, March 6, 2019, Overview of the Boundary Fence at the Northwest Point Detention Center on Christmas Island.

View of the boundary fence at the Northwest Point Detention Center on Christmas Island, Wednesday, March 6, 2019.


Mr. Santol said Reopening of Northwest Point facility last year What the government says it will use to provide “relief” throughout the mainland Australia network is not an appropriate solution to overcrowding at other facilities, and pandemics pose a devastating health risk to vulnerable detainees. Created the possibility of.

“It’s more than 2.5 thousand kilometers from Australia’s closest capital. [which is] Perth, and that means it’s far from acute care facilities, “he said.

The government states that it has contracted services to maintain the health and well-being of detainees on the island.

But Jana Favero, director of the Advocacy and Campaign Asylum Seeker Resource Center, said, if so, four-year-old Australian-born Tharnicaa Murugappan. Wouldn’t have rushed from the island to Perth last week for emergency treatment..

“Recently, there have been inadequate medical facilities not only for Tharnicaa, but also for other refugees who have been mentally and physically affected by their detention. The problem is that people are out of sight. It’s a government that detains people because they’re out of their minds, “she said.

The Home Office responded to the report’s recommendations, agreeing with six, partially agreeing with two, paying attention to seven, and disagreeing with five.

In his response, the ministry said, “We continue to actively consider the need for continued detention of individuals,” and the Australian Border Force’s priority is the health and safety of all detainees and staff. is there.

The approach to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19 in detention centers was based on medical advice, and no detainees were infected with the virus throughout the network to ensure that the measures being taken were working. Stated.

According to the agency, its operational quarantine procedures have been communicated with advice from the clinical advisory team and the Australian Infectious Diseases Network, giving detainees access to clothing, toiletries, telephones and other items.

Medical services for detainees on Christmas Island are “comparable to those available to the Australian community under the Australian public health system,” he added.

Report on COVID-19 risk in immigrant detention encourages closure of Christmas Island facility

Source link Report on COVID-19 risk in immigrant detention encourages closure of Christmas Island facility

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