Monday, 20 December 2010 00:00 Jack H Smit Editorial Dept - Australia

Human Rights Day Suicide Attempt Reaffirms Detention Centres as the 'Immigration Killing Fields' - "Yet another suicide attempt overnight in the Northern Detention Centre in Darwin marks the start of Human Rights Day for Australia, and this is ample proof that Human Rights are utterly unavailable and out of reach for people in immigration detention," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.

"A man was hospitalised in Darwin earlier this morning after trying to kill himself. Two weeks ago another man tried to kill himself in the Perth detention centre. Earlier this week someone tried to kill himself in the Villawood detention centre; and in the last couple of months, three men killed themselves in Villawood.

If anyone needs anymore examples that the Immigration Department and the Immigration Minister are failing in their duty of care and the application of human rights, they are clearly blind as bats," spokesman Jack H Smit said.


"Following the recent Full High Court case which ruled that full procedural fairness had to be applied to all refugee assessments regardless of the mode of arrival, the Immigration Minister and his department should have been in an Unholy Hurry to immediately - without a minute more delay than necessary - inform every single person who had arrived by boat and who had rejected asylum cases that they would be re-interviewed and reassessed forthwith, but the department has brazenly and arrogantly failed to be in a panic and in a hurry about this process, leaving thousands of asylum seekers still in limbo of ongoing, damaging, and destructive detention."

"The bureaucratic tendency in the immigration department to underplay issues and regard everything as manifestations of normalcy, the deeply entrenched mechanisms of encountering disasters with spin and nice media-ready words, and its continuing deflection of criticism is not just a denial that there's anything wrong in immigration detention centres, but it is becoming part of the reason that suicides and suicide attempts are taking place," Mr Smit said.

"We demand that the immigration department starts working around the clock, in shifts, and throughout the Christmas holidays, to correct its wrongs as demanded by the High Court decision. If it does this, it may help to prevent more incidents of self-harm, suicide attempts and suicides. It can stop immigration detention centres from being its own Killing Fields."

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.

Image Courtesy of Human Rights Commission Australia - Northern Detention Centre in Darwin, Australia

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