What happens when Serco runs Christmas Island

The Refugee Action Collective just released this press statement that highlights the seeming inability or unwillingness of Serco and the Immigration Department to handle the influx of asylum seekers:

At least one Tamil detainee has been seriously injured on Christmas Island as overcrowding in the tension centre has seen a series of fights erupt over the past three days.

It is understood that the Tamil man has spent at least 24 hours in the medical centre after some of his teeth were knocked out in an assault inside one of the compounds two days ago.

There are also reports that a Serco guard was slightly injured in one of the altercations.

Last (ie Tuesday) night, Serco locked down blue 2 compound to try and prevent any repeat incidents.

“The lock down is just more example of the crisis management that characterises Christmas Island. It is not a solution,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“It seems that the overcrowding is producing something of a gang culture among some of the detainees inside the detention centre. The overcrowding, the boredom, the delays and the misery is turning the detention centre into a hot house of frustration

“Facilities inside the detention centre are strained to the limit. Former recreation areas have been turned into dormitories and asylum seekers are living in tents. People are being held for months with nothing to do. In this environment, the smallest incidents can become a flashpoint for the tensions, and incidents become fights.”

According to the latest official statistics, there are over 2000 detainees inside Christmas Island’s main detention centre.

“Some asylum seekers have been waiting over 18 months for security clearances after being told they have been accepted as refugees. Justice delayed really is justice denied in these cases. The delays cause more frustrations and hardship for the asylum seekers and their families.

“The delays and the overcrowding are recreating the conditions that resulted in the “riot” inside the detention centre in October 2009. There is no reasonable explanation for the delays. Serco and the immigration department blame ASIO but that is no comfort for someone who has been told the government has found them to be a refugee.

“The Commonwealth Ombudsman recently reported a ”˜”¦lack of appropriate accommodation, education and recreation activities, [and] the need for more and correct interpreters, and providing community detention on mainland Australia.’ Christmas Island should be closed,” said Rintoul.

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

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