Reopening detention centre will increase compensation claims – ALA

24th Apr 2013

The Australian Lawyers Alliance today called on the federal government to stop detaining children and families as part of its asylum seeker policy.

“It is bad enough that we have adults behind bars that shouldn’t be there, but there is a very grave danger of inflicting even greater harms on traumatised children,” ALA National President, Tony Kerin, said.

“The fact that the Government is not ruling out the reopening of WA’s notorious Curtin Detention Centre, where people stitched their lips together and rioted in protest, beggars belief,” Mr Kerin said.

“Renovated or not, families just shouldn’t be placed there."

Mr Kerin said child neurologists over the world agreed that the psychological harm done to children’s fragile brains by placing them in unnecessary detention was monumental and likely to cause permanent psychological problems.

“Not only is Australia setting itself up with the medical costs of continuing to treat those eventually granted asylum, but it may lead to compensation claims from all those children who will be damaged as a result,” he said.

“Reports that Curtin may potentially be rebadged as an ‘alternative place of detention’ to get around the federal government's commitment not to keep children in detention centres, is just playing with semantics.

"The government cannot simply keep locking people away in remote and isolated locations and not expect an international backlash.

"Under the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child it states: ‘The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.’

"For the Immigration Minister, Brendan O’Connor, to suggest the government is still comfortable it is meeting its international obligations lacks credibility,” Mr Kerin said.

Tags: Human rights Compensation Western Australia Asylum seekers and refugees