Tuesday 15 April 2003 07:30 WST
For Immediate Release
West-Australian refugee group Project SafeCom Inc. today called for a United Nations observer team to be placed inside the Baxter detention centre during the Easter protest convergence which will take place during the coming weekend.
Following corroborating reports of a serious assault of some in a group of eight detainees by refugee advocates during last weekend who had been placed by DIMIA in solitary confinement, Project SafeCom has contacted Australian representatives of the United Nations with the request for urgent action of this nature.
The reports were uncovered by the Australian Green's National spokesperson for refugees, Ms Pamela Curr in Melbourne. In the reports is was alleged that the detainees in the 'management unit' were flexi-cuffed and shackled at hands and feet and also mouth-taped, and that an intellectually disabled detainee was assaulted by a NZ guard with a body-weight of around 100kg, who bashed the detainee's head repeatedly against a wall.
Ms Curr has, even after repeated calls and pleas, been unable to date to move South Australian State police to investigate this alleged assault, nor has she been able to take the Australian Federal Police to take any action on the matter.
Ms Curr had reported that eight detainees have been placed in what is known as "the management unit", a block with solitary confinement cells. DIMIA placed these detainees in the cells because it deemed the detainees to be "troublemakers" and at risk of escaping during the weekend protests.
"We have no reason to believe that DIMIA or ACM have the best and human rights interests of detainees at heart, on the contrary, we have consistently seen the opposite examples during the last year", Mr Smit said.
"What happens inside Baxter, away from the eye of the media and the public, is still the same as what has happened since the last Federal election when the Howard government started on a deliberate campaign of de-humanisation, and it amounts to torture and - in the words of Democrats' leader Andrew Bartlett last week - 'near criminal' behaviour."
"And with the police nearly running scared, ACM and DIMIA staff will no doubt resort to their own appalling methods of trying to control behaviour. It is most urgent, that human rights monitors are present, not just on the outside of Baxter, but on the inside".
Just yesterday the Victorian Refugee Action Collective called for legal observers to be present inside Baxter. Project SafeCom has informed both RAC-VIC and the UN representatives, that it wishes to join its initiative with RAC's plans in 'inserting' legal observers in the detention centre.
Australia's United Nations Association National President Ms Margaret Reynolds is currently in Geneva. She has been alerted to the plans.
Mr Smit has also written to the South Australian Minister for Police, Pat Conlan, asking why South Australian Police has been found unwilling to investigate last week's serious incident.
For more information call:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[Phone number posted]
Greens Spokesperson for Refugees
[Phone number posted]