World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Baxter case will test mandatory detention policy


"Baxter madness" court case will test mandatory detention policy

"The question whether the Baxter detention centre, and living in Baxter 'indefinitely' makes you mad, is highlighted in more than one way today, both in the Australian courts and on television through the ABC's Four Corners current affairs program tonight," WA Refugee group Project SafeCom's Jack H Smit said this morning.

Today lawyers for two Iranian asylum seekers will argue in a court in Adelaide that they should be removed from detention for reasons of mental illness, and the two un-named asylum seekers will appear in court to testify (news article below), while tonight the ABC will reveal new abuse evidence in the well-known detention case of Cornelia Rau.

"To thousands of people around Australia in the 'refugee movement' it is clear that long-term mandatory detention, as well as the cruel institutional environment playing itself out inside Baxter, causes mental illness, but it seems that the only party denying that this makes people 'mad' is the Department of Immigration (DIMIA) and its Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone, and lawyers acting for the Commonwealth - against asylum seekers."

"And if we mention 'the refugee movement', we're talking about one of the largest and most potent civil movements in Australia, that has long known, witnessed and tried to counter this mental decay wherever it could, knowing how terribly depressed and ill people in detention have become, and we're talking about ordinary citizens as well as lawyers, doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists, former detention centre staff, Amnesty International Australia, church members, the clergy as well as laypeople."

"Only the fear of loosing opportune support ground - especially after the Cornelia Rau affair - in what remains a politically motivated and ruthlessly inflexible mistreatment of asylum seekers makes DIMIA, Vanstone and the PM John Howard unwilling to be honest about what's taking place as a result of Australia's mandatory detention policy."

"The detainees inside Baxter who came to seek asylum, for that reason, and by all accounts, are nothing less than political prisoners, also in terms of what Amnesty International calls political prisoners. It's about time that Australia as a nation, and John Howard in particular, stops being stubborn and stops playing political games with the lives and well-being of asylum seekers."

"The blindfolded man in this injustice is John Howard, and he needs to take the blindfold off, and he should order the lawyers for the Commonwealth to stop squandering millions of dollars worth of taxpayers money to keep his mad-making policy in place. And if the demands by his backbenchers for change to detention policy are any indication, the Prime Minister would serve Australia well to implement real and not just cosmetic changes at his earliest convenience: at the moment some of the backbenchers fit in better with the policy of the Greens or Democrats or even the ALP."

"And in terms of what happened to Cornelia Rau, no inquiry is needed, public or secret, to conclude that the unchecked, relentless and merciless current detention powers need to be stripped from the hands of DIMIA, and be placed in the hands of the judiciary so that the dictatorship of bureaucrats and consequently biased politicians, can end, completely, for good and for many detainees, including Rau, too late."


Baxter drives detainees mad, says psychiatrist

The Age
By Penelope Debelle
April 3, 2005

Two suicidal Baxter detainees will be questioned in the Federal Court in Adelaide tomorrow in a case that has put on trial the mental health care provided by the Department of Immigration in detention centres.

Lawyers for the two Iranian detainees, one of whom took part in the November hunger strike on the Baxter roof, allege the Commonwealth failed in its duty of care towards the men, who suffer severe depression. They want them sent from the Port Augusta facility to a psychiatric care unit at Glenside in Adelaide, where mentally ill Sydney woman and former Baxter detainee Cornelia Rau is being treated.

The court was told on Friday by an expert psychiatrist that the Baxter centre was an environment almost designed to produce mental illness. "It is a place that drives people mad," said Adelaide psychiatrist Jon Jureidini, who examined the men by video link early last week.

The Immigration Department, represented by barrister Sashi Marahaj, said differing medical opinions about the men's mental health did not mean the Commonwealth's duty of care had been breached.

However, refugee lawyer Claire O'Connor, who asked for the men, named only as M and S, to be taken to court tomorrow, said their mental health was deteriorating daily and they need urgent treatment.

M had told her he had stockpiled tablets - which Baxter guards had searched for but never found - and would commit suicide if his situation did not change.

When the case first came before the court in February, the court heard the men had not been visited by a psychiatrist since at least November and possibly August the previous year. Since then they had been seen by a psychiatrist who will be called to give evidence this week.

Dr Jureidini, a consultant psychiatrist at Glenside, said psychiatric visits every six weeks were not likely to be sufficient given the cruel environment in which detainees were held. Although guards at Baxter may not behave cruelly, detaining people in this way was cruel, he said.

"I'm not actually sure a psychiatrist can do anything for anyone at Baxter but if they could, it would require a great deal of attention," he told the court. "The whole detention centre environment is one of hopelessness."

The practice of putting potentially suicidal and distressed detainees into isolation and under constant video surveillance in Baxter was damaging, he said.

"I think it is a very misguided approach if you are trying to relieve suffering," he said. "It is quite likely, in fact almost certain, to increase a person's suffering and distress."

The mere existence of observation and management units at Baxter adversely affected detainees' mental health because of the constant threat of being sent there, he said. Clinical confinement and surveillance outside detention was restricted to a maximum of four hours at a time but Baxter detainees were held in the management unit for up to 22 hours at a time.

"There is a reluctance to use (isolation) as a profession because someone who is vulnerable by virtue of having a mental illness is even more vulnerable to the effects of isolation," he said.

• Cornelia Rau was abused by jailers, and immigration detention officials knew about her mental condition, new witnesses claim on ABC television's Four Corners program in an interview to be broadcast tomorrow night.

A former prisoner says Ms Rau was manhandled every day to force her back into her cell.

http://www.theage.com.au/news/Immigration/Baxter-drives-detainees-mad-says-psychiatrist/2005/04/02/1112302285554.html
..

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>

ALSO:

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news