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Amnesty International’s call for time limits and detention centre closures should be heeded

Media Release
Sarah Hanson-Young 23 Feb 2012

The Australian Greens have today urged the Gillard government to follow the recommendations of Amnesty International's report to impose time limits on detention and shut down remote detention centres.

"If we want to stop already fragile people from harming themselves or taking their lives, the only way to do it is by closing detention centres on Christmas Island and elsewhere," Greens' immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young.

"You can only stop self-destruction with 30-day limits on detention, instead of the indefinite and arbitrary mandatory detention which Australia continues to perpetrate. Only the Greens have bills before parliament to amend the Migration Act and fix these problems.

"Some people have languished in detention on Christmas Island and at Curtin for more than 800 days. No Australian would ever be detained without charge for more than two years. I am outraged we are doing this to people who have not committed any crime and are merely seeking our help.

"No family should ever be subjected to head checks by guards between 11pm and 1am, as continues to happen to those enduring the Darwin Airport Lodge. That practice is unacceptable and has to stop.

"Maintaining prison-like centres in remote areas, away from essential services for people who have fled trauma, is expensive and damages people. We've known for more than a decade that detention centres do not deter people seeking Australia's protection.

"We urge the government to continue moving people out of detention centres and into the community as soon as possible, after initial health and security checks are done.

"Australian taxpayers are rightly outraged at the hundreds of millions of dollars in blowouts in the contracts between the government, Serco and International Health and Medical Services. Community release programmes are 90 percent cheaper than detention centres, and 100 percent fairer."

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