AHRC to investigate detention of childrenThe Australian Human Rights Commission is to conduct an inquiry into the mandatory and closed immigration detention of children seeking asylum in Australia.
Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs, who will lead the inquiry, said it would investigate the impact of immigration detention on the health, wellbeing and development of these children.
“These are children that, among other things, have been denied freedom of movement, many of whom are spending important developmental years of their lives living behind wire in highly stressful environments,” she said.
In 2004, the Commission’s landmark report, A Last Resort? National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention, found that the mandatory immigration detention of children was fundamentally inconsistent with Australia’s international human rights obligations and that detention for long periods created a high risk of serious mental harm.
“It has been 10 years since the A Last Resort? report and, when that inquiry was announced, there were over 700 children in immigration detention,” Professor Triggs said.
“Today the numbers are far higher than at any time during the first national inquiry, with over 1000 children currently in immigration detention facilities in Australia and over 100 children detained in the regional processing centre of Nauru.”
Professor Triggs said the new inquiry would also measure progress in the 10 years since the last investigation, and find out whether Australia is meeting its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, to which Australia is a party.
“It will be vital that we receive submissions from as many people as possible who currently have or previously have had contact with children who are or were asylum seekers and their families, including detainees themselves,” Professor Triggs said.
“The benefit of a national inquiry is that, through public hearings and submissions, it gives a voice to children and families who are directly affected by detention – as well as to people who have had direct experience with them in any number of community capacities, including professionals, experts, friends and others.”
Professor Triggs said she expected that the Commission would complete the inquiry before the end of the year.
For more information about the inquiry, as well as submission forms, go to this PS News link.
Edition 400, 11 March 2014