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HREOC report short on facts and credibility.



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Philip Ruddock MP MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND MULTICULTURAL AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS

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MEDIA CENTRE

HREOC Report Short On Facts And Credibility

MPS 089/2002

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Philip Ruddock, today expressed disappointment with the quality of the report by the Human Rights Commissioner on his visits to immigration detention facilities in 2001 and 2002.

"While I welcome the report and appreciate the Commissioner's acknowledgment that there have been improvements in both the infrastructure and services at the detention facilities since his visits, the report contains a number of factual errors that damage its overall credibility and authority," the Minister said.

Mr Ruddock said he was particularly concerned that the Commissioner had accepted statements made by detainees at face value and had made little or no attempt to verify the information.

For example, the report says that there are five to six people living in dongas designed for one person when in fact accommodation units for single individuals do not exist.

A claim in the report that officers confiscate information about HREOC is a serious allegation however the Commissioner is unable to provide sufficient evidence for the matter to be pursued.

HREOC expresses concern about the length of detention without acknowledging the role detainees play by pursuing every avenue of domestic litigation and appeals to international bodies.

The preface to the report clearly states a philosophical opposition to the policy of mandatory detention, and as such it could be argued that HREOC has taken a predetermined position on conditions in Australia's detention facilities.

The report, which is a largely historical document, does not provide a thorough and well researched investigation of the issues as would be consistent with the importance of this subject.

As a result of the Department's continuous program of improvement to infrastructure and services at detention facilities, conditions had improved further since comment was provided to the Commissioner's report.

These activities included:

the opening of new Baxter detention facility in South Australia; ● progress in obtaining access for detainee children to external schools; ● implementation of alternative detention arrangements in response to the needs of particular groups, such as women and children; and ● the substantial revision of the Immigration Detention Standards, which form a key component of the contractual obligations of the detention

services provider. ●

22 October 2002

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URL: http://www.minister.immi.gov.au /media_releases/media02/r02089.htm Last update: 23 October 2002 at 08:58 AEST