Tuesday December 12 2006, 7:45am WST
For Immediate Release
"Reports from refugee advocates indicate that six people at the Baxter detention centre have attempted to end their lives in separate incidents over the last four days by hanging," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"Some of them have also slashed themselves with broken glass and mirrors."
"Contacts inside the Baxter detention centre also report that the Commonwealth Ombudsman John McMillan visited the Baxter detention centre yesterday," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"These incidents are no surprise," Mr Smit said. "Regardless of the gloss and varnish in the dominating comments in the Australian media by the Immigration Department's media spokespersons to paint incidents as being "under control", and in media statements issued by DIMA that attempt to "normalise" circumstances and incidents, the fact remains that Australia locks up people in detention centre jails such as Baxter which represent maximum security jails, whereever they are built around Australia."
"As long as we lock up people in direct contravention of international conventions, and brazenly against the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees' directives where "States should only detain people as a last resort, and only when a State security is at risk", we will plunge people's lives in despair and depression and they will sink into the lowest depths of dark gloom, and they will have plenty of reasons to kill themselves."
Fact is, that most people that we lock up in the places only good for the damned such as Baxter, do not need to be locked up - and certainly not for the ungodly long periods where the Australian State steals their freedom, the continuity of their lives, and their mental health as a result," Mr Smit said.
"Mandatory detention is a bankrupt policy and these incidents form yet another layer in the hundreds of stories that affirm this."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]