As most people would know, asylum seekers who arrive in Australia are subject to rigorous security checks whilst forced to remain in detention. Mandatory detention does not discriminate against age or health, with children and the sick still forced to live indefinitely in detention centres.
For people fleeing persecution, rape, torture, war and trauma, this experience is incredibly damaging. These individuals arrive in Australia, desperate for help, safety and a new life, but instead are exposed to more trauma and treated as criminals.
Australia has recently been awarded an ‘F’ on a report card from the UN when it comes to our treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, largely due to this inhumane experience.
Whilst it is perfectly legal to seek asylum, those who arrive without visas are held in detention until granted a visa, which often takes years.
In this way, Australia violates human rights set out in treaties to which we are a signatory. According to these guidelines, everyone has the right not to be subject to arbitrary detention and children should be detained only as a last resort, and for the shortest time possible. On top of this, anyone who is detained has the right to appeal their detention in court and should have access to legal advice and assistance.
Australia is in direct violation of these treaties. Not only is detention mandatory, it is not time limited and those detained are unable to successfully appeal. While they may seek a judicial review, Australian courts have no authority to release a person from mandatory detention – rendering this process ultimately useless.
Mandatory detention is a damaging, expensive process that is in direct violation of human rights. Australia needs to put a stop to this inhumane practice ASAP to avoid further trauma for those already suffering. Community-based alternatives are a much more humane, compassionate option which allows asylum seekers to contribute to society and move on from the trauma they have escaped.