Wednesday February 9 2005 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"Refugee advocacy groups have received a statement from detainees in the Baxter detention centre (reprinted below) relating to the announced inquiry into the unlawful detention of Cornelia Rau, and from the statement it becomes clear they seek extended terms of reference to this inquiry."
"It is clear to us at Project SafeCom that the detainees acknowledge that they have been subjected to psychological assessment with a clear intent to label them as "troublemakers", when they refer to themselves being assessed as displaying 'deliberate misbehaviour'".
"From the statement of the Baxter detainees it also becomes clear that the integrity and impartiality of "professional psychological assessments" have lost their independence in the Baxter detention centre as a result of its now well-known "prison-culture", colloquially known as "the screws' culture" in correctional centres, where notions of control and 'good behaviour' versus 'bad behaviour' have become inseparably linked to psychological and perhaps also psychiatric assessments of inmates."
"It is intolerable that these psychological assessments are manipulatively used as a means of controlling inmates in the Baxter detention centre, where nobody is a criminal, nor should be treated as a criminal."
"Therefore Project SafeCom also demands, that a scrutiny of all assessment procedures in the Baxter detention centre also become part of the Rau Inquiry."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
For details about the Cornelia Rau affair see
Statement from Baxter detainees:
"The public inquiry into the happenings of the unlawful detention of Cornelia Rau should not be short-sighted but expanded into an investigation about the inhuman treatment of all those who reside in Baxter detention centre."
"They are all treated by the same psychologists who are unable to distinguish between severely ill mental behaviour and deliberate misbehaviour."
"Severely ill detainees are punished as if it were misbehaviour."
"Baxter detention centre has a specific compound for this where most of Cornelia Rau's time and [that of] many others is spent, isolated, locked in a room for 18 hours a day and/or constantly harassed in ways hard to understand and always denied like waking people in a disturbing manner and provoking them into matters of self-harm and anger [and] always being blamed."
"Most of the officers working in the compound, Red 1, are new to the centre. It takes a great deal of time for officers to realise that this is not a criminal detention and to treat the detainees as such.
"Also in the Red 1 compound detainees are severely restricted. There is next to nothing in forms of recreation - no access to gym or education facilities. Detainees are expected not only to be alone, but alone and feeling that nobody cares, which is exactly the plight of those [ie those in detention] who are unable to comprehend their situation."
"Not understanding why you are in Baxter detention, with no clue of when it will end, together with feeling alone and that no-one cares, brings even someone with strong mental health to the brink of insanity."
"Without proper psychological help, detainees may never find their way back."
"We here at Baxter detention plea for the pious and compassionate people of this great nation to not only look at the small picture of one Cornelia Rau but at the big picture of the humanitarian catastrophe of all those still suffering in this historical precedent of inhumanity. This is called Australian immigration detention."
"Baxter detainees extend our best wishes for the recovery and future health of Cornelia Rau."