Thursday January 31, 2007 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"Last weekend's death in custody of an Indigenous drink driving offender while in transit by van, an AIMS Van operated under the contract with the US company Global Solutions Limited from the Western Desert to Kalgoorlie was not by any means the first serious incident by this company, the company also charged by the Federal government for the running of Immigration Detention camps, the company responsible also for transport of Immigration detainees and prisoners, and this death warrants a full, independent, and complete investigation, not just by the State government, but by an independent body," WA human rights group Project SafeCom said today.
The death comes on the back of another death of an inmate of the Villawood detention centre, who was under GSL transport on his way to a Sydney hospital, where he collapsed on arrival on the hospital's steps, only to be pronounced dead 24 hours later; NSW human rights advocates expressed serious concerns about the quality of medical care and monitoring in Villawood, a facility run by GSL following this incident.
See a report on the death in Green Left Weekly:
Sept 2004 GSL Transport (Maribyrnong-Baxter)
On 17-18 September 2004 GSL transferred 5 detainees from Maribyrnong to Baxter, without due regard to their deteriorating condition in the locked-up compartment of the transfer van, including provision for food, water, exercise and toilet facilities, and without attending to their refreshment needs in an environment where in the searing heat, the airconditioner was incapable of providing a comfortable environment during the trip. Subsequently GSL showed serious disregard for the detainees' initial complaint about the transport, and it was not until complaints had reached the Ombudsman and HREOC, that a full inquiry was conducted by Mr Keith Hamburger AM. At the time, Federal MP and Member for Fremantle, ALP MHR Dr Carmen Lawrence was instrumental in getting this inquiry off the ground.
Keith Hamburger Report
From the report:
"...the van is unsuitable in that its design creates an unsafe and inhumane environment for those in the secure compartments, as well as having design faults in the air-conditioning system that creates discomfort through failure to adequately cool the secure compartments..."
The Keith Hamburger Report can be found here:
Following the Hamburger Report all five detainees received compensation offers and a letter of apology from the Immigration Department.
Inspector of Custodial Services writes to GSL
In June 2007, the Inspector of Custodial Services in WA, Richard Harding, wrote to GSL, questioning whether the company had the "capacity to cope with the logistical challenge of running a transport service across such huge distances as are involved in Western Australia", and whether GSL would "attempt to cherrypick the most profitable parts" of the transport contract. Mr Harding also expressed serious concerns about what he called the 'parlous state' of the fleet of State-owned vehicles, and about the insufficient resourcing of this fleet by the WA government.
Richard Harding's remarks on this issue are here:
GSL future under the Rudd Labor government
"Conform with an earlier expressed commitment by the Labor party while in opposition, where it gave a full commitment to replace overseas companies, working under "commercial-in-confidence" secrecy arrangements, and working for the primary motive of generating profits for themselves, with agents working under auspices of the Australian Public Service, the Rudd Labor government should use this growing misery tale of human disasters to cancel its contract arrangements with Global Solutions Limited and replace the care for immigration detainees, and the transfer and transport of detainees and prisoners by international companies, with Australian operators who are directly responsible to the Inspector of Prisons and the Minister for Immigration," Project SafeCom said.
"The Rudd government should immediately end the opportunistic, cruel and "at armslength" abdication of responsibility methods of the Howard administration for what happens in this area, and replace this abysmal situation with contracts where Australian public service operators are directly and immediately responsible for what happens to their clients, and it should be made abundantly clear, that they are prosecutable if anything goes wrong while people are in their custody," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]