Immigration Department carrying out asylum seeker ‘round-up’
18th Sep 2014
A large group of asylum-seekers currently being ‘round up’ by the Commonwealth are at very real risk of suicide or even death if they are forced to return to their home countries, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.
ALA spokesperson and barrister Greg Barns said the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) is currently conducting early morning ‘raids’ and forcing a large number of Iranian and Afghan asylum seekers into detention. It is then sending them to Darwin in preparation for forcible repatriation.
Mr Barns said these asylum seekers are being taken from their homes without having an opportunity to tell those who are supporting them in the community. He said some of these individuals have lived in Australia for a number of years and have become integral parts of their local communities.
Mr Barns said one young asylum seeker from Tasmania was recently taken from his home in the early hours of a weekday morning, sent to Melbourne and then to Darwin despite seeing a psychiatrist in recent months due to deteriorating mental health and being suicidal.
“This asylum seeker, who is strongly supported by the local community, was ‘round up’ in the early hours of the morning and taken from his home despite being at risk of suicide,” Mr Barns said.
“This asylum seeker has had little contact with his friends in Tasmania since being taken by officials from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. The treatment of this individual is nothing short of cruel and unusual punishment.”
“Understandably, his health is continuing to deteriorate - a person at high risk of suicide should not be treated in such a cavalier fashion by government authorities,” Mr Barns said.
“No doubt there are a number of others in this category.”
Mr Barns said the Federal Government’s treatment of asylum seekers breached several international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and United Nations regulations on the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (1955).
“It is particularly dangerous to send individuals back to the Middle East and Afghanistan in the context of the ISIS-driven conflict,” Mr Barns said.
“Once again Canberra is failing to show any compassion towards asylum seekers,” Mr Barns said.
“These individuals have been traumatised in leaving their home countries and who are now being kept against their will, in jail-like conditions, while the sword of Damocles hangs over their heads.”