12 March 2012

Further calls for Australian detention centre closure after attempted suicides

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An advocacy group for asylum seekers have called for an Australian immigration detention centre to be closed immediately after reports of four attempted suicides in the past three weeks.

Australian immigration

Australia' detention centres have come under much scrutiny in recent months.

The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network as called on Australian immigration authorities to immediately close the Northern Immigration Detention Centre after two Iranian men currently detained at the centre attempted suicide on Sunday morning.

Fernanda Dahlstrom, spokesperson for the network, said both men had been detained in the centre for substantial periods of time while they await the outcome of their Australian visa applications when they could have been detained in the community.

"Waiting with uncertainty about their future, not able to have anything to occupy themselves to make themselves useful, just basically sitting around with nothing to do, separated from their families, and not knowing whether they have a future in this country," said Ms Dahlstrom.

There have been several reports of attempted suicides at Australia's detention centres as well as widespread protests and reports of overcrowding. The facilities have come under increased criticism due to their remote locations, often in hot and arid conditions, and lack of activities for the detainees.

A scathing report released by Amnesty International last month found a widespread dependency on sedatives for the detainees to make it through each day and recommended the immediate closure of Curtin Detention Centre; Ms Dahlstrom has since recommended that the Northern Immigration Detention Centre (NIDC) also be close immediately.

"Well, certainly we receive a lot more of these sorts of reports at the NIDC then the other two centres in Darwin.

"That is not to say it is not happening at those centres by the NIDC is the centre which is becoming increasingly notorious for self-harm incidents and suicide attempts and the proliferation of serious mental illness."

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