NT immigration detention taskforce may cause more harm than good - ALA

24th Jul 2012

The Australian Lawyers Alliance is expressing concern, today, that a new Commonwealth-funded police taskforce, being installed to manage violence in the Northern Territory, may create more harm than good.

The ALA voiced its fears following news of a new special 60-strong force being formed to police immigration detention centres in Darwin.

“The money being spent to create this command would have been better spent speeding up asylum seeker claim processing and improving communication between detainees and the immigration department,” ALA spokesman and barrister, Greg Barns, said.

“Frustration and lack of transparency of process, for those detained awaiting decisions on their bids for asylum, are what lead to mental breakdown, self harm and violence,” Mr Barns said.

He said the ALA was also concerned that the officers, being drawn from locally-based police, might be installed prior to being given adequate training in human rights and cultural awareness issues.

“It would be far better to put processes in place to prevent violence prior to people reaching their breaking point rather than trying to talk down traumatised people acting out as a natural result of the torture and trauma that they have been subjected to,” Mr Barns said.

Tags: Northern Territory Asylum seekers and refugees police powers