Baxter Management plans Serious Human Rights Breaches in Mass strip searches

Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Western Australia 6312
Phone: 0417 090 130

Baxter Management plans Serious Human Rights Breaches in Mass strip searches

Media Release
Wednesday December 31 2003 11:00am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

Additional Media Contacts BELOW this release

Australian refugee advocates have received credible information that on the occasion of the hand-over of detention centre care from Australasian Correctional Management to Group 4/Falck a mass strip search will be conducted in the Baxter detention centre. Perth-based refugee advocate Mr Greg Egan, together with others, has expressed his ourrage with what appears to be one of the most blatant breaches of international human rights standards and rules governing the conduct and justification of strip searches.

Mr Egan reports: "A (sympathetic) officer has informed detainees in Baxter that he believes every detainee will be strip-searched during the run-up to the hand-over from ACM to Group 4."

"As most people will know, this is even more offensive and humiliating to people from most of the cultures from which detainees come than it is to Australians, and doing it en masse with no specific justification is an outrageous abuse of power."

"I don't know the legal basis on which such searches are conducted. Perhaps someone with legal qualifications could comment on whether some pre-emptive warning (e.g. letters from lawyers, or even from the detainees themselves) could be given, informing ACM/Group 4/DIMIA that they will face legal action for any such arbitrary abuse of this procedure."

Ms Deslie Billich, lawyer at the Refugee Advocacy Service of South Australia (RASSA) has also confirmed that the planned strip search seems a breach of standards governing strip searches.


Jack Smit, spokesperson for Project SafeCom Inc. commented, that after the government denials following the ABC Four Corners Program "About Woomera", it had always appeared that ACM's loss of contract was a direct result of this exposure of corruption within the former detention centre contractor.

A while ago, the then Minister for Immigration Philip Ruddock, announced that new Operations Rules had been formulated governing the conduct and operations of the new operator, Group 4/Falck.


"This blatant plan immediately exposes the complicity of Group 4/Falck with the former operator ACM and it cancels any belief refugee advocates may have had in "improvements" now that Group 4/Falck is soon to take over the centre management in Baxter and other centres," Mr Smit commented.

"There are serious international and legal agreements governing the use of strip searches. Police is subject to these rules, so are prison operators. Once again it seems that under the cruel and sleazy laws brought in place by the Howard government, detention centre operators can do as they please, and of course all this time with the foreknowledge and approval of DIMIA, the Department of Immigration."

"We are researching and if possible implementing serious legal action against those who plan and carry out these flagrant breaches of detention standards", Mr Smit concluded.

For more information:

Deslie Billich, lawyer
Refugee Advocacy Service of South Australia (RASSA)
[phone number posted]

Greg Egan
Refugee Advocate
[phone number posted]

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
Narrogin/Fremantle WA
[phone number posted]

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