Seven of the detainees involved at the at the Villawood immigration detention centre riot are now facing charges.
05 May 2011
Seven detainees charged over Australian immigration centre riot
The charges come as a result of the riot at the immigration detention centre in the Sydney suburb of Villawood last month, with seven of the detainees involved now accused of offences that include affray and destroying property.
While the incident began as a rooftop protest by just three detainees who were angered over their applications for asylum in Australia being rejected, it soon spread to involve approx. 100 people and resulted in nine of the immigration centre's buildings being destroyed by fire.
The seven accused men have been refused bail by a Sydney magistrate, despite the detainees' lawyer saying that the men are suffering severe mental health issues as a result of being placed in solitary confinement at the Australian immigration centre.
The riot has resulted in Australian authorities promising tough action against asylum seekers convicted of crimes while in detention, with Immigration Minister Chris Bowen proposing a new law that would mean any such individual found guilty of committing an offence would immediately fail the character requirements for a permanent visa.
Others have criticised the immigration detention system though, claiming that the facilities are over-crowded and the length of time it takes for detainees to be processed is the cause of unrest such as the riot.
The number of asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat has risen lately, especially arrivals from Iraq, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. All those who arrive in Australia by boat are subject to mandatory detention, with the government announcing the provision of another 1,900 beds to accommodate the influx.