Human Rights Commission inquiry into children in immigration detention has called for a royal commission into the practice, and what can be done to help those who have suffered as a result. The long-awaited report, which was completed late last year and released by the Federal Government on Wednesday evening, has found more than a third of children in detention in the first half of 2014 were assessed as having serious mental health disorders. The report recommends a royal commision be set up to examine “the long-term impacts of detention on the physical and mental health of children in immigration detention.” It would also investigate “reasons for continued use of this policy since 1992, including offshore detention and processing” and “remedies for any breaches of the rights of children that have been detained”.
The report also recommends that all children and their families in detention in Australia and on Nauru be released into the Australian community within the next four weeks and that all detention facilities on Christmas Island be closed. In a statement Attorney-General George Brandis said he was “disappointed and surprised that the Australian Human Rights Commission did not start its inquiry until 2014, considering the problem was at its most acute prior to the 2013 election, when the number of children in detention peaked at 1,992 under the former Labor Government in July 2013.” Senator Brandis also rejected the report’s finding that the Commonwealth is in breach of its international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young condemned the report being tabled so late in the day. “The Government tried their hardest to bury this report today,” she said. “They’ve waited to the very last moment to table what is a very serious report into what is institutionalised child abuse in this country.”
This article first appeared ABC, 12 February 2015.