Liberty is a fundamental and inalienable human right that should be enjoyed by all and sundry irrespective of their status. It is recognised across the globe, and Australia is not exempted from this party. To effectively safeguard the rights of immigrants, the country has, in recent times, embraced several global instruments. 

Among these instruments are the international covenant on civil and political rights and the convention on the rights of a child. These instruments look into the various abuse and violations of the rights of the held in detention. 

Reasons people are held in immigration detention in Australia.

The Government of Australia has initiated compulsory detention for Australian non-citizens. Individuals who do not have a valid visa fall into this category of a non-citizen. The following are the categories of people who are in Australian immigration detention. 

  • People whose arrival or stay in Australia is not backed by a valid visa as well as those seeking asylum from torture and persecution. 
  • Refugees who have received negative security evaluation or assessment 
  • Individual whose visas have been annulled due to character flaws 
  • Students who breached the conditions attached to their visa and in the process have their visa cancelled 
  • Those who have stayed in the country beyond their visa 
  • Individuals suspected to have been involved in human trafficking and smuggling.  
  • Non-citizens suspected to have been fishing illegally in the Australian waters.

Human rights of individuals held in the Australian immigration detention

To facilitate and ensure fair treatments of non-citizens held in immigration detention, the Australian Government have initiated various international treaties. These treaties are geared towards protecting and safeguarding the rights of those in detention against violation of their rights and privileges.  

The Australian Government has ratified some of the obligations contained in the international treaties. Some of the ratified treaties include: 

  • The convention against torture and other inhuman, cruel and degrading treatments or punishments 
  • The international covenant on civil and political rights 
  • The convention on the rights of a child 
  • The convention relating to the status of refugees 

These international treaties consist of a wide range of freedoms and rights applicable to those held in the immigration detention. The relevant human rights and key principles in these treaties enjoyed by people in detention include: 

  • The right not to be subjected to arbitrary detention 
  • Every individual who is detained has the right to be treated with respect and dignity.
  • Any person who is detained has the right to challenge the legality of their detention in court. He should as well have access to impartial legal assistance and advice. 
  • Children should be detained for a short period
  • The best interest of every child in detention should always be taken into consideration.
  • No one should be subjected to torture, servitude or slavery while in detention.
  • Everyone should earn respect for their rights without segregation or discrimination.
  • The conditions and standards of persons in immigration detention, as well as how they are treated, should follow these obligations. Adherence to these obligations will prevent the continuous and constant violation of human rights prevalent in the immigration detentions. 

Breaches of human rights in the Australian detention systems.

Australia has one of the strictest and most restricted immigration detention in the world. Individuals held in the immigration detention suffer several inhumane and cruel fate. These sufferings include lack of access to an independent and impartial court where the reasons for their detention can be challenged.  

The immigrants have no alternative. Immigration detention is compulsory and mandatory. The stay in the detention is not limited to a specific time. The Australian Government have made several attempts to put an end to these breaches. The Commission is also working effortlessly to end the human right violations suffered by these immigrants.  

The Commission is as well concerned about the mandatory detention of children associated with the detention system. The inquiries made by this Commission shows the extent to which children suffer abuse and violations of their rights. This unhealthy stay in detention has adverse effects on the physical and psychological wellbeing if the children. 

To put an end to this arbitrary Act, detention must be reasonable and necessary in all cases. A legitimate aim should also be adopted. This will serve as a check on the abuse of human rights. 

However, the Commission recognises the importance of legitimate immigration detention. A specific time should also be allotted to the detention system. A person should only be held in an immigration detention system if he is a threat to the Australian community.  

The activities of the Commission in protecting and safeguarding the rights of people in detention 

The Commission has launched several activities to look into cases of human rights violations. These activities will ensure that every individual’s right is respected. Some of these activities are: 

Investigating cases or reports of human right violations in the immigration detention 

Regular visitations to the detention facilities and giving reports on each visit 

Conducting and organising national inquiries 

Instituting standards and conditions for the protection of human rights in immigration detention.