Minister's refusal sparks another Baxter suicide attempt

Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Western Australia 6312
Phone: 0417 090 130

Minister's refusal sparks another Baxter suicide attempt

Media Release
Saturday December 16 2006 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

"The Immigration Minister's refusal to grant asylum after new case information had come to light and had been submitted to the Minister, Amanda Vanstone, has led yesterday afternoon to another man attempting to kill himself by hanging while overdosing himself at the Baxter detention centre," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.

"A 36-year old Indian man who has been incarcerated in the Baxter refugee jail for nearly three years, upon hearing of the negative decision of his so-called '48B' Ministerial Intervention request, had locked himself in his room, took an overdose of tablets and was later found hanging by his bedsheets when a concerned detainee in the adjoining room raised the alarm and together with guards broke into his room," spokesman Jack H Smit said.

"This case brings the total of attempted suicides at Baxter in the last two weeks to nine out of the about 33 detainees, and it confirms what deaths-in-detention researcher Mr Charandev Singh (contact below) told ABC Radio Port Pirie last week - that the rate of attempted suicides in Baxter exceeds all known rates in any incarceration or penal institution," spokesman Jack H Smit said.

"Mr Singh, who has researched all fifteen deaths in detention in the last seven years, is adamant that the situation in the Baxter detention centre represents an extreme psychiatric emergency, and he is not the only one," Mr Smit said.

Mr Singh further commented that "the conditions and regime at the Baxter detention centre are lethal, and the detainees need to be removed and placed into a community care environment. The situation where one in six detainees try to kill themselves, represents an emergency of the Immigration Minister's Duty of Care to which she needs to respond immediately before any deaths occur."

"In addition to this," Project SafeCom's Mr Smit said, "visitors to the Baxter detention centre cannot confirm whether or not GSL guards attending to the man's attempted suicide, are indeed certified and qualified in administering First Aid. Guards placed into this situation all should be qualified as Senior First Aid Officers - that is Level Two Officers, and not just level one - and if they are not, the Minister is placing all detainees in a seriously unsafe environment."

"If you hang yourself properly, it can take just seven seconds before the weight of the body's hanging damages nerves in the spinal column, causing extremely serious damage. In this context the DIMA comments last week that nobody was seriously hurt when others tried to hang themselves represents once again government spin and tales."

"Close Baxter for good," Mr Smit said, "because it is a lethal institution, and it has already damaged hundreds of refugees for life, who are now living in the community. Baxter is a horror facility created by a government that has no heart and that knows no mercy. Close Baxter, and mothball also the Howard government at the next election, and replace it with a Government of Compassion, because the Howard government has no heart and will never have a heart and soul." Mr Smit concluded.

For more information:

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]

Mr Charandev Singh
Human Rights Advocacy Worker
[phone number posted]

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