Detention Centre Suicide Prompts Violence

Added by on March 30, 2011

The suicide of a 20-year old Afghan asylum seeker at Curtin Immigration Detention Centre near Derby has prompted warnings of more deaths, self-harm and rioting in Australian refugee detention centres.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has promised a thorough investigation into the suicide, which refugee advocates say was a result of the young man believing his visa application had been rejected.

Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson Ian Rintoul told AAP that recent arrivals at the centre had seen their visas being granted, leading the man to conclude that his claim would be rejected.

Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said the incident was yet another example of a detention system in “shambles”. She told ABC Television: “That’s the second young man in two weeks to take his own life because of being detained for far too long without the information coming forward on why he was still in detention.”

Her view was supported by international human rights group Amnesty: “The situation at the Curtin Immigration Detention Centre and at centres around Australia is deteriorating,” said Graham Thom, Amnesty’s refugee coordinator. He added, in line with Senator Hanson-Young, that government must ensure that processing times are reduced, and that mandatory detention ultimately is abandoned.

According to an immigration department spokesman, there have been six deaths in Australian immigration detention centres in the past seven months, one of which was due to natural causes.

Several of the deaths, including the latest suicide, are being investigated by police and the coroner.