07 February 2012

Amnesty International claims Australian immigration detention centre should be closed

A four person delegation from international human rights charity Amnesty International has recommended that an Australian immigration detention centre should be closed immediately.

Australia visa

Amnesty International has recommended that Curtin detention centre be closed.

The delegation, which is carrying out a 12 day tour of many of the Australian immigration department's detention centres, conducted a two day of Curtin detention centre which currently houses 860 men.

Graeme Thom, refugee co-ordinator at Amnesty International, said the group was impressed by the improved accommodation facilities at the centre but that there was an "air of hopelessness" among the detainees and that their mental health was being seriously affected by the lengthy periods of time, as long as three years, many of the detainees have to wait for an Australian visa.

"They kept telling us again and again, 'we feel like we're walking ghosts around here, this is like a funeral to us and we think we're going to die here,'" said Dr Thom.

"When you see grown men well up and cry because of the uncertainty of their lives, well that's always pretty devastating."

The delegation blamed the isolated location of the centre combined with the intense heat and drawn out wait for a visa as the reason for many of the asylum seekers' despair.

"The remoteness of Curtin I think is problematic for the people there. I mean the staff there are trying to do activities and engage the people there but when you've been in detention for almost three years, your mental state has been completely devastated," concluded Dr Thom.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge visa applications with the Australian Embassy.

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