Australia is the only developed nation to have a policy of mandatory, non-reviewable detention of
refugees arriving over its borders. Many countries detain people for a short period if they come without
documentation but then release them into the community while they are being processed.
Some asylum seekers are incarcerated in Australian detention centres for years. It is widely believed that a
system which leads to the prolonged and arbitrary imprisonment of people fleeing human rights
violations in their own country is in violation of the Australian Government’s commitment to
international human rights agreements.
It is believed that there are over 1500 asylum seekers being held in Australian immigration detention centres as of 2004.
It is almost impossible to obtain accurate figures for the numbers of asylum seekers being held in
detention centres in Nauru, Manus Island and Christmas and Cocos Islands as part of the Government’s
"Pacific Solution". It is known that there were over 275 children held in these off shore centres in september 2002.
"It was detention… it was like a prison,
only there were men, women and children, all together… and all the people
were scared, and instead of being
criminals, many of the people in there
were the victims… [We were treated]
like criminals. We were in a prison, so I
guess they had to treat us like criminals. But we should not have been
there. Nobody told us one single word
about what was going to happen to
Detention centres are often isolated, located away from media and public scrutiny.
Detention is costly politically, socially and economically as well as in human terms.
Staff at these 'Refugee Prisons' reserve the right to handcuff, sedate and place in solitary confinement those in
Click Here for Australian Prisons