Wednesday March 14, 2011 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"Reports are emerging of extreme police brutality on Christmas Island by Australian Federal police," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"A Christmas Island source has claimed that AFP has been holding about 150 asylum seekers in the 'gymnasium' inside the North West Point detention centre since Monday evening, where they are forced to sleep on plastic sheeting without any beds. According to the source, police officers "beat the living daylights out of them" yesterday," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"The source told us that the 'injuries' of asylum seekers who have been subjected to this extreme treatment by Australian Federal police officers are "worse" than injuries sustained during last week's AFP actions which involved the use of tear gas and 'bean bagged lead shot pellets'."
"It is absolutely outrageous that the AFP has the gall, stupidity and craven arrogance to become not just harsh detention guards, but also a gang of self-appointed torturers, away from the gaze of lawyers and any legal representations. It seems they did not just 'round up' asylum seekers involved in the protests, but then, on the face of it, also doles out its own extra-judicial form of physical assaults. It seems clear that AFP has on its own decided that the 150 are the so-called 'ringleaders'."
"The allegations raised by our source call for the immediate despatch of lawyers and representatives of the Commonwealth Ombudsman to Christmas Island, and all AFP officers who think they can become extra-judicial torturers should feel the full force of the law and the courts, and if appropriate, sentencing by our courts and imprisonment if appropriate."
"The allegations raise the notion that Australian Federal police thinks it can act as a self-appointed Torture Squad. They bring into grave disrepute the notion of legal justice and punishment appropriated by our courts. They should be stood down immediately."
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]