Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention announced

Date: 
Monday 3 February 2014

The President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, has announced today that she will lead an inquiry into the mandatory and closed immigration detention of children seeking asylum in Australia.

“This inquiry will investigate the impact of immigration detention on the health, well-being and development of these children,” said Professor Triggs. “These are children that, among other things, have been denied freedom of movement, many of whom are spending important developmental years of their lives living behind wire in highly stressful environments.”

In 2004, the Commission’s landmark report, ‘A Last Resort? National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention’, found that the mandatory immigration detention of children was fundamentally inconsistent with Australia’s international human rights obligations and that detention for long periods created a high risk of serious mental harm.

“It has been ten years since the ‘A Last Resort?’ report and, when that inquiry was announced, there were over 700 children in immigration detention,” said professor Triggs. “Today the numbers are far higher than at any time during the first national inquiry, with over 1000 children currently in immigration detention facilities in Australia and over 100 children detained in the regional processing centre of Nauru.”

Professor Triggs said the new inquiry will also measure progress in the ten years since the last investigation, and find out whether Australia is meeting its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, to which Australia is a party.

“It will be vital that we receive submissions from as many people as possible who currently have or previously have had contact with children who are or were asylum seekers and their families, including detainees themselves,” Professor Triggs said. “The benefit of a national inquiry is that, through public hearings and submissions, it gives a voice to children and families who are directly affected by detention – as well as to people who have had direct experience with them in any number of community capacities, including professionals, experts, friends and others.”

Professor Triggs said she expected that the Commission will complete the inquiry before the end of the year.

For more information about the inquiry, as well as submission forms, go to www.humanrights.gov.au/national-inquiry-children-immigration-detention-2014

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay 02 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529