Refugee groups today condemned the Immigration Minster’s decision to re-open Curtin detention centre to house detainees whose visa applications have been suspended.

“Given the history of Curtin and the length of time that detainees will be
condemned to he held in Curtin, the Minister’s decision amounts to criminal
human rights abuse,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action

“It is well established that after six months the mental health of
detainees is at risk of serious decline. Afghan asylum seekers face at
least six months in Curtin before their applications will even begin to be
processed. Even if the suspension period is not extended, these people face
up at least ten months before getting an answer to their refugee
application. It is arbitrary detention in the most remote desert location.

“Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry warned that detention
centres were factories for mental illness, yet the Minister is about to
open the worst of the worst.

“It is calculated decision to isolate a particularly vulnerable group of
people and keep them away from public scrutiny. We also remind Chris Evans
that Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers are people, not a ‘case load’.

“Two weeks ago, Chris Evans said the Rudd government would not go down the
Howard road to abuse of refugees. Now even his language is becoming
‘Ruddockesque’ in the attempt to hide the reality that Labor is mimicking
Howard’s treatment of refugees.’

‘Labor is making a mockery of its own policy announced in mid 2008, that
detention would be a last resort. The announcement that unaccompanied
minors will go to Port Augusta – presumably the so-called residential
housing associated with Baxter – also put the lie to the claim that the
Rudd Labor government would not hold children in detention,” said Rintoul.

In 2004, Chilout, an advocacy group dedicated to getting children out of
detention described Port Augusta residential housing project: “It is a
detention centre, with a less hostile environment than Baxter, but still
with guards, security cameras and fences.”

“Re-opening Howard’s sites of abuse is no solution to the problems of
Christmas Island. There is no justification for suspending asylum claims,
Asylum seekers need more processing, more quickly, not more hell-holes.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713


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