Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Australia - Refuge Island
Shayan Badraie, now aged 10, is suing the federal government over the two years he spent in immigration detention at two detention centers, from March 2000 until 2002. Fleeing religious persecution in Iran, Shayan was five years-old when he and his parents were detained at Woomera after arriving by boat in March 2000.

The boy's legal team told the NSW Supreme Court the boy developed post-traumatic stress after being exposed to
violence, riots and acts of self-harm at the detention centres. Shayan's lawyer Dr. Andrew Morrison told the court, that federal government knew for months that Shayan was suffering a serious psychological disorder because of the conditions of his detention, yet nothing was done to arrange for proper psychiatric treatment and evaluation. Instead, Shayan remained in detention at Woomera and Villawood - and was later placed in foster care - against expert medical advice.

According to Dr. Morrison "
This case is not about the policy of mandatory detention, It is about the way in which it was carried out and the permanent injury inflicted on a young child by a regime which failed to provide for his medical needs.The defendants continued to disregard his welfare even after told by competent and independent medical practitioners of the harm being done to him".

They are seeking compensation from the government and the detention centre operators, Australasian Correctional Services and its subsidiary Australasian Correctional Management, claiming they are liable for the 10 yr old's psychological suffering.

Some facts and stats regarding illegal immigrants in Australia -
As per DIMIA website.

1. Australia's Migration Act 1958 requires that all non Australian citizens who are unlawfully in Australia be detained and,that unless they are given permission to remain in Australia, they must be removed as soon as practical. This practice reflects Australia's sovereign right under international law to determine which non-citizens are admitted or permitted to remain in Australia and the conditions under which they may be removed.

2. The main nationalities of detainees since 2000 are: Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian, Chinese, Indonesian, Sri Lankan, Palestinian, Korean, Vietnamese and Bangladeshi.

3. A wide range of services is provided at each detention facility, which contribute to detainee development and quality of life. These include:
-24 hour medical services
-dental services
-culturally responsive physical and psychological health services
-educational programs for adults and children, including English-language instruction. In most facilities, the majority of school-aged children attend government or non-government schools in the community during school term.
-cultural, recreational and sporting activities
-religious services, and
-availability of telephones, newspapers and television and unlimited access to chilled water, tea, coffee, milk and sugar.

4. Immigration detention is subject to regular scrutiny from external agencies such as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the Immigration Detention Advisory Group to ensure that immigration detainees are treated humanely, decently and fairly.

5. Australia has experienced an influx of boat people, mainly from the Middle East, a region where people smuggling networks are operating.

6. Established smuggling routes are known to exist in Amman and Bangkok. These ports facilitate movements out of the Middle East and North Africa.

7. It costs the Government on average $50,000 for every unauthorised arrival by boat from the time of arrival to the time of their departure from Australia.

8. In 2000-01 there were 54 unauthorised boat arrivals carrying 4,141 people.

While going thru the
DIMIA website, this is what i found. It just proves Indian government officials are not the only one slacking at work. Take a look at this :

Here the total number of children in Villawood detention center is wrongly given by adding the Total of Men and Women residing in the same center. Therefore the Total number of person in Immigration detention center is wrong.

If Shayan's case succeeds, other detainees may sue the government for millions of dollars in damages. Also it would raise many questions towards the Australian government's policy of mandatory detention.

I have mixed feelings on this issue, and here are my reasons :

1. Shayan's case on humanity grounds does strike an emotional cord and i do feel that the Australian government should have taken the necessary steps to help the child.

2. Refuge's should be given a fair trail and allowed to live in the socitey.

3. But then, the question arisis as where should the government draw a line. Bringing in Refuges will only add financial burden on the economy and the tax payers, till the excepted Refuges are properly settled.

4. For example, would India except boat loads of immigrants from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, year after year?

In practicality, is there a method to achieve a correct balance between human rights and border protection?

posted at 8/30/2005 06:39:00 PM | comments (6) | permalink


  1. Throw them out thats what i believe.
     — Anonymous Raabi, at 8/30/2005 10:27:00 PM 

  2. Not sure if you know about Cornelia Rau, a former flight attendant who was mentally ill when she was put in one of the detention centers - she is an Australian citizen. In all, 33 Australian citizens have been found to have been locked up, including one lady of Filippino descent who is now suing, understandably.

    Of course, if you go back in time, the horrors white people perpetrated in this country will shock you no end. Aboriginals (the real people of the land who are now identified by this strange word) were not even considered in the census - they were simply not considered human. There was a whites-only immigration policy until well into the '60s. The West Indies team that toured Australia in 1960-61 was given special exemption - normally they wouldn't have been allowed in.

    It's more than just an immigration issue here in Australia. Ironically, Melbourne is one of the most cosmopolitan cities I have seen. You make a very valid point about finding balance - the Aussie way is surely not the right way.
     — Blogger Gameboys, at 9/01/2005 11:28:00 PM 

  3. The Filippino lady was actually deported back to her native country.
    - NK
     — Blogger Gameboys, at 9/01/2005 11:30:00 PM 

  4. Thanks for visiting my blog.

    I dont completely agree with you. I have spent 7 years in Sydney...some of my very close friends are Australians..and they clearly the most nicest people to be around with. I never experienced racist remarks there. And the ones i did get..were from Australian Indians.

    I feel its just the case you have in US, not everyone agrees with Bush and his regime..sameway in Australia not everyone agrees with John Howard and his cabinet but sadly they are the one's in control.

    I was there in 2001, when the riot in Woolmera detention center incident happened..the entire nation was completely disturbed with the incident.
     — Blogger Sakshi, at 9/01/2005 11:51:00 PM 

  5. Sakshi...I've been working with some wonderful Australians too, for the last six months or so and they're much more social here than Americans or British, for instance. I'm not inclined to overly generalize either, but evidence suggests Australia has a long way to go in terms of attitudes to immigration. Locking people up for years on end does not speak well for a country that has pretensions to be in the top tier of nations.

    I also came across certain forms of bias recently e.g., w.r.t the Schappelle Corby case and somehow there was an assumption that she was innocent. Not only that, insults were flying on talk radio, calling Megawati Sukarnoputri a midget and what not. The latest example is the John Brogden saga.

    Mind you, I've not had any personal abuse so far, in contrast to my experience in Britain. But Britain has a much better immigration framework.
     — Blogger Gameboys, at 9/02/2005 01:22:00 AM 

  6. In regards to 'Schappelle Corby' case, well i feel that even the Americans or Britishers would have reacted the same way if their fellow contrymen/women would have been in the same circumstances. The Australian point of view was correct in many ways...they claimed that for the 'Bali bombings'..the main accused was given only 2 1/2 years of imprionment where as Ms. Corby was given life sentence.

    As for the John Brogden case...well the Australian media and the public did condemn his actions...and therefore he resigned from his post. Which clearly proves that Australian are not biased.

    British immigration might be better..but of what use is it..when every day some other foreigner belonging to a 3rd world country..is ridiculed.
     — Blogger Sakshi, at 9/03/2005 04:17:00 PM 

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