Last week the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) released its annual inspection report, The Summary of Observations following the Inspection of Mainland Immigration Detention Facilities 2007. The purpose of the report was to monitor conditions of immigration detention to ensure Australia's compliance with internationally-recognised human rights obligations.
The Human Rights Commission's Graeme Innes visited Immigration Detention Centres (IDC), Immigration Residential Housing units (IRH) as well as the new Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation between August and November 2007. These visits involved an inspection of the facilities and interviews with management staff, health, educational and kitchen staff as well as meetings and lunch with detainees. HREOC also visited 6 detainees who were or had been in community detention. Whilst some improvements have been made, especially by the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin, HREOC once again reiterated a number of its recommendations from the previous year's report.
Recent events at Villawood confirm the urgency for a review of the mandatory detention policy and closure of all detention facilities. We must stop treating asylum seekers like criminals.