Children held in immigration detention in Australia have described conditions as “hell” with a human rights inquiry yesterday detailing many banging their heads, biting themselves and wetting their beds.
The Australian Human Rights Commission gained access to Australia’s main detention center for asylum seekers on Christmas Island as part of its national inquiry into children in immigration detention.
Commission president Gillian Triggs said what the team — which included a pediatrician and a child psychiatrist — found was disturbing, with most of the 315 children there at the time having been held for six to eight months.
They said that most of the children were visibly distressed during their recent visit. The children told the inquiry “this place is hell,” “help me get out of here” and “there’s no school, nowhere to play and nothing to do,” the commission said.
They also spoke about their distress at living in a closed environment with adults who were sad, angry and sometimes attempting self-harm.
“The overwhelming sense is of the enormous anxiety, depression, mental illness, but particularly developmental retardation,” Triggs told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “The children are stopping talking. You can see a little girl comes up to you and she is just staring at you but won’t communicate.”
Pediatrician Karen Zwi and child psychiatrist Sarah Mares said that being detained was taking its toll with recorded instances of children biting and banging their heads.
“If a parent is depressed, anxious, has any health condition that impacts on their capacity to care for their child, or the environment is frightening, then that child’s development is often impacted,” Zwi said. “This was evident in several of the children we saw, with developmental delay [usually delayed speaking], and regression such as bedwetting.”
Triggs said that many of the drawings the children gave the commission depicted prisons.
“These children are actually identifying themselves by their numbers, not by their names, which is shocking in itself,” she said, adding that the asylum seekers felt they were in limbo.
“They have been detained for long periods by anyone’s measure and they don’t know when they will go to Nauru or Papau New Guinea for assessment of their refugee status and potential resettlement there,” Triggs said.
Under Canberra’s offshore detention policy, any asylum seeker arriving by boat or intercepted at sea is eventually transferred to camps in Nauru or Papua New Guinea for processing and permanent resettlement outside Australia.
Triggs said that Australia had obligations under international human rights law to detain children only as a measure of last resort and to ensure they were protected from harm.
Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison was not immediately available for comment.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic