Say after me; Serco isn’t that hard to spell

The issue of Australia’s immigration detention centres is routinely misreported/ignored by corporate media.

British multinational Serco runs all the country’s centres – not that you’d know that by reading most media reporting – and here’s just a few latest examples of where this information routinely lies (ie. a black hole):


Hundreds of asylum seekers at the Curtin Detention Centre near Derby have gone on hunger strike this morning and are refusing to even drink water, according to a refugee advocate.

Advocate Pamela Curr said a detainee told her of the protest in a short telephone conversation earlier today.

“Some of the men have been on hunger strike for three weeks and some have been taken to hospital because they’ve collapsed ”¦ he said two people are in hospital that he knows of,” she said.

“I asked him if he would consider drinking water – and he said ‘I would consider it, but nobody wants to do it. We have decided no.'”

Ms Curr said she had been told that the men, mostly young Afghani males, were frustrated at not being told anything by the Department about how their cases were proceeding.

He had also claimed that access to the internet had been blocked, she said [I have heard from refugee activists that Serco has been responsible for this decision].

Detainees’ moods had lifted in October after the Federal Government lifted its six-month processing ban for Afghani asylum seekers.

Ms Curr said many of the detainees had been interviewed in November but since then, about 150 people had been rejected as refugees.


The Gillard government wants to raze the habitat of an endangered West Australian cockatoo to build its latest immigration detention centre, but is relying on permission from a hostile Barnett government.

The Northam detention centre was to hold 1200 asylum-seekers by March and a further 300 by June but has been hit by delays. The Immigration Department now hopes the first 600 detainees will be moved there in late March or early April.

The entire proposed camp is subject to a public comment period and has been referred to the Federal Department of Sustainability, Water, Population and Communities because it requires clearing banksia woodland found to be a feeding ground of the Carnaby’s black cockatoo — an endangered native bird found only in parts of southwest WA.

“The design of the detention centre will ensure minimal clearing of the identified black cockatoo foraging habitat in the northwest of the project is required. Clearing in this section will be less than one hectare in area,” says a report prepared for the Immigration Department by environmental consultants GHD.

Neither story mentions Serco despite the firm being directly relevant to both situations. That’s bad journalism.

If any evidence was needed that the Australian government is so desperate to rid itself of refugees, it’s now done a deal with one of the most corrupt regimes in the world, Afghanistan. Furthermore, what kind of pressure has Serco placed on Canberra to lessen its loads in the over-flowing detention centres?

Australia has the green light to deport thousands of Afghan asylum seekers after reaching a historic agreement with the Afghan government.

The Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Afghan Refugee Minister, Jamaher Anwary, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Sydney yesterday.

It enables the forced return of Afghans whose bids for asylum fail. The move is alarming security experts and refugee advocates.

Mr Bowen said it would deter Afghans considering travelling to Australia. ”Never, all through the Howard years, never before today, has there been an involuntary return from Australia to Afghanistan,” he said.

”To dissuade people from risking their lives by joining people-smuggling ventures, it is important that Afghans found not to be owed protection by Australia are returned to Afghanistan.”

About 2600 Afghans are in Australia’s detention centres. Of those, 49 must win court appeals to avoid imminent deportation.

The opposition was sceptical about the agreement, saying it was only as good as the government’s will to enforce it. ”The minister is unable to say when anyone is going to be returned,” said its immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison. ”It’s not clear to me the government has the resolve to implement this.”

In three years, only three asylum seekers have been returned to Afghanistan – all last year after volunteering to go. In 2008 and 2009, 126 people were returned to their countries of origin.

The director of the Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University, William Maley, warned that ethnic Hazaras, in particular, should not be deported without extreme caution. ”The security situation in Afghanistan is extremely unsettling,” he said.

He cast doubt on the security expertise of Australian officials making refugee assessments.

The decapitation of 11 Hazaras in Oruzgan province in June contradicted a cable from the Kabul embassy proclaiming a ”golden age” for Hazaras, he said.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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