Amnesty International calls for Australian Government to eradicate practice of holding assylum seekers indefinitely

The article below was written by Amnesty International. It is calling for the Australian government to eradicate its practice of holding asylum seekers indefinitely in detention centers because it has caused irreparable damage to their mental health. An asylum seeker is someone who claims they are a refugee, but whose status has not been determined, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

I agree. Holding an asylum seeker for an indefinite amount of time goes against their human rights obligations. Asylum seekers are looking for a new place to reside since their home country is no longer suitable. That does not give a country the right to detain them and treat them with such ill regard for their well-being. By holding them in these detention centers, Australia is restricting their movement, diminishing their adequate standard of living and holding them as lesser beings- among other things. These are breaches of human rights.

These people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect during the time they are in the detention center (which should be limited).


photo from

Australia: Indefinite detention harms asylum seekers’ mental health

Australia’s policy of placing asylum seekers in indefinite detention is traumatizing innocent people and jeopardizing their mental health, Amnesty International said after visiting some of the country’s most remote detention centres.

Following a 13-day fact-finding mission this month to detention centres on Christmas Island off the southern coast and in three cities on the mainland, the organization has once again found the asylum policy to be flawed and in contravention of Australia’s human rights obligations.

“After speaking with many asylum seekers who have suffered damage to their mental health because of this system, it is clear to us that the Australian government has to change this policy, as a matter of law as well as simple morality,” said Dr Graham Thom, a refugee spokesman at Amnesty International.

“Across every facility we visited what was evident was the stress caused by prolonged detention and the uncertainty which continues to traumatize innocent people who are still waiting behind fences.”

Amnesty International found that some of the centres – including Northwest Point on Christmas Island and the new Wickham Point centre in the northern city of Darwin – unnecessarily look and feel like prisons. The high-security compounds of Christmas Island, which house hundreds of men who have committed no crime, are particularly grim environments.

In the centres on Christmas Island and the north-western city of Curtin, the harsh and isolated environments make it difficult to provide basic services and supplies like medical attention, communications and access to support networks.

Asylum seekers repeatedly told Amnesty International that they suffer from the negative mental health impact of long-term detention despite efforts made to improve the facilities’ physical environments.

“There was a striking contrast between men we met who had only been detained for a few months describing the trauma experienced in their home countries, compared with the men who had been held for up to three years telling us of the trauma caused by their detention,” said Graham Thom.

The use of sleeping pills is still widespread throughout all of the centres, with many people explaining how they rely on medication to pass the days away.

An Iranian man told Amnesty International: “When I came to this country I was strong and healthy, now I am ill. I am taking sleeping pills, I am weak.”

Amnesty International is calling on the Australian government to immediately close the country’s remote detention centres and limit detention to a maximum of 30 days, with community processing to occur once initial heath and security checks are complete.

The government should prioritize community processing for long-term detainees, families and unaccompanied children.


About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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One Response to Amnesty International calls for Australian Government to eradicate practice of holding assylum seekers indefinitely

  1. Pingback: Chuck Baldwin — Update On NDAA And Drones Flying Over The US « CITIZEN.BLOGGER.1984+ GUNNY.G BLOG.EMAIL

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