Children ‘will stay’ in detention

Federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock says children will continue to be held in immigration detention despite a damning report into the practice.

The criticisms have been made in a draft report, prepared by Australasian Correctional Management for an inquiry by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

ACM was until recently responsible for running the detention centres.

The report says the use of tear gas and water cannons in the centres is inappropriate for children and can lead to mental health problems.

The Federal Opposition immigration spokesman Stephen Smith says the government must be held accountable when the final report is tabled in parliament.

“My worry is that Mr Ruddock will table the report, either on budget day or during budget week in an attempt to minimise scrutiny and minimise publicity.

“But whenever he tables it, we will do our utmost to ensure it is subjected to the highest possible parliamentary and public scrutiny because it does stand as an indictment on the government’s policy approach in this area and their administration of it.”

The ACM report says hygiene levels are often unacceptable in the centres and medical services are inadequate, with children facing lengthy delays in accessing treatment.

Mr Ruddock says the number of children in detention has decreased significantly and the government has now moved more women and child into community housing.

A representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Australia, Michel Gabaudan, says the children are being denied basic human rights.

“It’s certainly against the (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“The detention of asylum seekers is something that is very strongly discouraged.

“These are conditions which we would have difficulty applying to children.

“If they apply to children, in as much as they are part of a broader family, they should be limited in time and as soon as a (security) clearance has been given, they should be monitored in the country under alternative arrangements.

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