500 signatures reached
To: UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“SPT”)
Investigate human rights breaches in Australian onshore immigration detention
With the recent ratification of OPCAT by Australia, the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) has a mandate to freely inspect and report on conditions in Australian onshore immigration centres.
Under OPCAT, immigration detention centres will be independently monitored for human rights breaches by a network of Australian inspectorates, with the Commonwealth Ombudsman co-ordinating that network.
Please join with us in calling on them to initiate an urgent and immediate schedule of inspections and reviews to address systemic breaches of rights occurring as a result of the administration of the Australian onshore immigration detention regime.
Why is this important?
In any situation where people are deprived of their liberty, they become particularly vulnerable to violations of their human rights.
In December 2017 the Australian government ratified what is known as the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). This measure should in effect increase the transparency of institutions and facilities such as immigration detention centres, juvenile detention facilities and prisons with respect of their compliance with human rights law.
There is a systemic culture of human rights abuse existent in the present administration of the onshore immigration detention regime by the Department of Immigration & Border Protection which substantially and consistently contravenes rights and protections outlined in International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) articles including:
ICCPR Article 9(1):
“Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established at law.”
ICCPR Article 17:
“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence.”
ICCPR Article 23:
“The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”
RIGHTS BREACHES ARISING FROM DETENTION INCLUDE:
Immigration detention, unlike a custodial sentence is indeterminate in length and typically sees a detainee being held for periods of at least 9 months on average. Many have remained in detention for years awaiting finalization of their cases.
The number of detainees suffering mental and emotional problems as a direct result of their detention is unacceptably high, and these health concerns extend to include many distraught family members.
Detainees are routinely moved from centre to centre with no prior warning to the detainee or his/her family.
Detainees are estranged from their families as a result of routine relocations to detention centres inaccessible to family members - this includes remote Christmas Island.
Detainees so affected have little opportunity for personal contact with family members, many of whom are Australian citizens with lawful rights of protection from the Australian government and its authorities.
Many detainees have provided information to DIBP showing evidence warranting their location in close proximity to family members for reasons of health, welfare and compassionate considerations. These legitimate pleas are routinely ignored by DIBP who cite administrative grounds necessitating the placement of detainees in remote detention centres.
Visas of long-term permanent residents have been cancelled in numbers not seen since World War 2. Many have significant ties to Australia and have homes and jobs here. They are denied the right to apply for temporary visas and support themselves financially whilst awaiting outcome on their substantive visa. Instead they are detained indefinitely at substantial taxpayer expense.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of concerns; however it should be enough to demonstrate a grave systemic problem with the administration of the detention regime which has spawned a culture of broadly based contravention of human rights and dignity.
These concerns have been known to both the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Australian Human Rights Commission, who have challenged the Department of Immigration & Border Protection on numerous occasions without success.
The government claims it is committed to preventing mistreatment and human rights abuses in detention centres. Please sign and share our petition and help us to hold them to that stated commitment. End this injustice once and for all.
How it will be delivered
The list of signatures will be emailed to key stakeholders including the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) and the delegated independent national body.