Poor conditions in detention centres fuel violence

Source gulftimes, 29 Decundefined
Activists say overcrowding, combined with long detention periods, violates rights and puts migrants at increased risk of violence.

Dire conditions in Indonesia’s immigration detention system fuel outbreaks of violence, human rights activists claim.

Many facilities are located in remote parts of the country, sometimes as much as 2,000km from the capital, Jakarta.

“The conditions in the overcrowded, squalid Immigration Detention Centres (IDCs) contribute to a tense atmosphere that can lead to violence,” said Alice Farmer, a researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW) and author of a 2013 report on abuses against migrant children in Indonesia.

The Indonesian government operates up to 16 centres to detain migrants who enter the archipelago illegally, mostly on their way to Australia, including asylum seekers who fled persecution and conflict in their home countries.

According to November 2013 data from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Indonesia hosts 10,897 refugees and asylum seekers, most of whom are from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka or Myanmar. On April 6, 2013, a group of Rohingya men reportedly attacked a group of Burmese Buddhist men inside the Belawan IDC on Sumatra Island after a member of their community was allegedly sexually harassed. The fight that ensued left eight people dead.

Overcrowding, combined with long detention periods, violates rights and puts migrants at increased risk of violence, activists say. The first step toward a solution is better co-operation and monitoring.

Commenting on the April brawl to reporters, Deputy Law and Human Rights Minister Denny Indrayana claimed there were 480 migrants in the Belawan facility at the time, four times its capacity, according to an interview HRW conducted with the facility’s director.

Anil, 35, a Sri Lankan migrant detained in Belawan for 11 months, witnessed the fight and said the mood inside the facility changed after the violence.

“We were scared of more fights. We started to protest to be released.”

An immigration official, who asked not to be named, said there were 265 migrants in Belawan IDC in mid-December 2013.

The 2013 HRW report said regular periods of overcrowding in several facilities resulted in “packed rooms with little or no privacy” and, in one case, one toilet for 37 people.

The report also alleged several incidents of violence against detainees, including children.

“Inside Pontianak IDC (on Indonesia’s Kalimantan Island), I spoke with dozens of migrants and asylum seekers who spoke of their fear of violence inside the facility,” said HRW’s Farmer.

“The guards’ track record of beating detainees perpetuates this problem… no child, no asylum seeker, should be left in these conditions.”

Anil, the Sri Lankan migrant, said the conditions, including the quality and amount of food, and basic sanitation have been unreliable since he was first detained in January 2013.

“For the past 20 days we have had trouble getting enough water because there is a problem with the pipes.”

According to UNHCR, 142 refugees departed for third country resettlement in November, mainly to Australia, bringing the total for 2013 to 875 individuals, the highest number in the past decade.

However, for many the waiting period can be excruciatingly long, and some asylum seekers stay in detention centres or other restricted housing facilities for years, unable to work or send their children to school, while they wait for news about their application. This frustration drives many into the hands of people smugglers who attempt to take them to Australia on unsafe, overcrowded fishing boats.

Hundreds of asylum seekers lose their lives each year on the dangerous journey, many of them women and children.

On December 10, a boat sank off Indonesia’s coast, when three asylum seekers, including one child, died.

Indonesia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, but observers say this should not prevent action to improve conditions in the IDCs, and call on Australia to take the lead.

“Ultimately, Indonesia should become party to the Refugee Convention, but that goal is a while off in the future, so interim measures need to be taken to improve conditions in the country for migrants,” said Graeme McGregor, the refugee campaign coordinator at Amnesty International-Australia.

HRW recommended that all Australian funding for migration activities in Indonesia be “conditional on respect for human rights and international standards on migrant detention conditions, including provisions for monitoring and review.”

McGregor pointed out, “Many immigration detention activities in Indonesia are funded by Australia, and while Australia is one of the only countries in the region with mechanisms, however faulty, for dealing with asylum seekers and refugees, there is a still a lot of hypocrisy in their policies and actions.”

Pointing to a series of recommendations Amnesty has made about Australia’s role regarding asylum seekers in the Asia-Pacific region, he said, “Working to improve detention conditions and practices in Indonesia would go a long way toward repairing that hypocrisy.”

3 Foreign Journalists Followed to Australia by Boat

By Charles,

A boat load of about 65 asylum-seekers and 3 foreign journalists had been intercepted in Australian waters near by Christmas Island on last Thursday.

According to a reliable source, most of them are Burmese nationals departed after several months languished in Indonesia. The 3 journalists having valid visa and believed to be from England and France, followed along the journey in order to discover the risk and the surreptitious lives of unwanted refugee boat people.

The source also confirmed that the journalists ‘ belongings including camera and recording devices were seized by Australian authority and separated from asylum-seekers.

Restriction of media is also practice across Australian detentions on various grounds therefore no media has able to report this story and also about ongoing abusive detention system against asylum-seekers as well..

Comment: Where to now for asylum policy under Abbott?

Source SBS, 13 Sept The new immigration minister, Scott Morrison, inherits a portfolio that is in disarray. There are tens of thousands of asylum seekers already in Australia who have made an application for a Protection Visa, but who have not had their claim considered.


By Alex Reilly

Asylum seeker policy experienced a rush of activity in the lead-up to the election. Behind the Abbott government’s bold promise to “stop the boats” in its first term of government is a series of specific proposals – some adopted from Labor, and some of the Coalition’s own creation.

The new immigration minister, Scott Morrison, inherits a portfolio that is in disarray. There are tens of thousands of asylum seekers already in Australia who have made an application for a Protection Visa, but who have not had their claim considered at first instance by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). They are in various forms of detention or in the community on bridging visas with no rights to work.


The government has promised to fast-track the resolution of these claims by removing the opportunity to have initial decisions reviewed in Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT), and removing judicial review to the Federal Court. Instead there will be a second departmental review, after which unsuccessful applicants will be removed from Australia. The government has also promised to stop funding immigration advice for asylum seekers, meaning fewer asylum seekers are likely to be represented when presenting their case to migration officers.

The removal of these legal and administrative rights has been the subject of considerable criticism in legal circles. If these rights are in fact removed, more cases are likely to end up in the High Court. This is a poor policy outcome. Despite its pre-election position, we are likely to see a continuation of judicial review in the Federal Court, if not access to merits review in the RRT.

In the last few years, the overturn rate of initial decisions in the RRT for asylum seekers arriving by boat has been about 80%. There is an ongoing debate about whether initial decisions are too harsh, or the tribunal is too soft. However, there can be no doubt that many, if not the majority, of the decisions overturned will have been wrongly decided at first instance. Removing the opportunity to seek review in the RRT means that the rate of acceptance of claims is likely to drop dramatically.

The positive side of the new application process is that the government should be able to work through the backlog of claims more quickly, and those who are granted a protection visa will get out of detention or off bridging visas more quickly. The negative side is that more genuine refugees will have their claims rejected, and will be returned to a country where their lives are in danger.

Return to TPVs

Those who are successful in their claims will only be eligible for a Temporary Protection Visa (TPV). These visas last for three years, after which refugees have to apply for a further TPV on the basis that they continueto fear persecution in their country of origin.

TPVs have been heavily criticised on a range of grounds. TPVs come with work rights, but it is harder to find work when a TPV holder can only guarantee their availability to work for 3 years. TPVs do not allow refugees to sponsor their family to join them, or to leave the country to visit family without losing their visa. This encourages those family members themselves to seek to get to Australia by boat.

Research shows that refugees who receive a TPV demonstrate increased anxiety, depression and overall distress as they try to cope with their isolated state of legal limbo. If TPVs are introduced we are likely to see an ongoing debate about their cruelty.

Regional resettlement

The Coalition inherits the PNG arrangement from Labor. This policy is highly unstable. There is a legal challenge in the High Court to the validity of the arrangement. If the arrangement survives this, it is still unclear how many asylum seekers the PNG government will be willing or able to resettle in PNG should they be found to be refugees on Manus Island. It is also unclear what rights refugees will have in PNG, and what assistance (if any) the Australian government will provide to assist with the housing, education and employment of these refugees.

Scott Morrison, the likely new immigration minister, has promised a ‘harder line’ on boat arrivals under a Coalition government. AAP/David Crosling

The Coalition also inherits the other part of the Pacific solution – detention and processing of asylum seekers on Nauru. Prior to the election, the Coalition promised to build a “tent city” for up to 5000 refugees to live on Nauru on modest welfare payments until a permanent solution can be found for them.

The Nauru and PNG arrangements constitute an ambitious legal, social and cultural experiment that sounded decisive in the heat of an election campaign, but will prove difficult to implement in practice. As criticism from the international community mounts and stories of poor conditions in detention and psychological trauma of detainees increase, these arrangements could unravel quickly.

Stopping the boats

The part of asylum seeker policy in which the Coalition differs most markedly from Labor is its determination to take direct action to stop the boats. This includes allocating A$420 million to pay Indonesian villagers for information, to buy unseaworthy boats, to boost the number of AFP officers working overseas, and to provide more funds for Australia’s border protection fleet.

The idea is to stop boats leaving Indonesia in the first place. For boats that do leave, the Coalition has promised that it will turn them back where it is feasible, and if it is not, the people on the boats will be transferred to Nauru or Manus Island for processing of their refugee claims.

These “buy back” and “push back” policies are the most politically sensitive of the government’s asylum seeker policies. They will result in illegal migrants remaining in or being returned to Indonesia purely to advance Australia’s national self-interest. One of the reasons the Indonesian governments has tolerated illegal entry of asylum seekers is that they make onward journeys to Australia.

For the Indonesian government to accept the push back policies, there will need to be some considerable payback, whether it be through offering more places in Australia’s resettlement program for refugees in Malaysia and Indonesia, or through contributing financial resources to finding other durable solutions for this refugee population.

If this analysis is correct, the new government’s preference for reducing the annual humanitarian intake to 13,000 from its current level of 20,000 seems misguided. In order to “stop the boats”, the government would be well advised to significantly increase the numbers in the humanitarian program and direct many of those extra places to resettlement of refugees in Malaysia and Indonesia. Expect there to be a debate about numbers in the humanitarian program early in the Coalition’s first term.

A concerning aspect of the government’s policy is its declaration that it will no longer release the numbers of boat arrivals, as this is considered “an operational decision, as part of Operation Sovereign Borders, for the three-star military officer”. This seems a surprising policy decision given that the government has staked its reputation on stopping the boats, and the best measure of success is the number of boats arriving. It is to be hoped that the decision not to freely release information on boat arrivals is not an attempt to avoid public scrutiny of its handling of asylum seeker policy, and in particular, the engagement of the navy in turning back boats.

The role of the media and concerned voices in parliament will be crucial to keeping the asylum seeker policy in the public eye where it can remain part of democratic deliberation.

Alex Reilly does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

UPP Detain 65 Myanmar Illegal Immigrants On Three Buses

Source Bernama,
KOTA BAHARU, Sept 8 ( Bernama) — The Anti- Smuggling Unit (UPP) detained 65 Myanmar illegal immigrants travelling on three express buses in Kuala Krai and Pasir Mas early this morning.

Kelantan UPP Commander Rusli Karim said the illegal immigrants from the Klang Valley and Kuala Lumpur were believed headed for the border town of Rantau Panjang.

In the first raid at 3.30am, the raiding team stopped two buses in Kuala Krai and detained eight men from the first bus. They detained 25 men and four women from the second bus.

Rusli said 25 men and three women were detained in the third raid on a bus at Simpang Repek, Jalan Pasir Mas-Rantau Panjuang at 6am.

"All the Myanmar nationals did not possess identification papers," he told a press conference here today.

They were detained under the Immigration Act and if found guilty, may be fined not less than RM10,000 or jailed not less than five years or both or not more than six strokes.

Rusli believed that the Myanmar nationals were trying to leave this country to escape the big operation against illegal immigrants under the 6P programme starting Sept 1.

"We are trying to track down individuals involved in people smuggling along the Malaysia-Thailand order from Tumpat to Jeli.

"Bus companies are also being investigated for fear that they are used as tool to transport illegal immigrants," he added.

At the Australian federal election 2013 – STOP THE ROT -

Source RISE,

“Seeking asylum is not a crime” – RISE Awareness campaign

Who we are

RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees is a not-for-profit incorporated association. RISE is the first refugee and asylum seeker welfare and advocacy organisation in Australia to be governed by refugees, asylum seekers, and ex-detainees. RISE exists to enable refugees and asylum seekers to build new lives by providing advice, engaging in community development, enhancing opportunity, and campaigning for refugee rights. RISE advocates on its members behalf to improve refugee policies and to generate positive social change in respect to attitudes impacting refugees.

- Federal election 2013

During this period of campaigning by politicians before the election on 7 September 2013, RISE is launching an awareness campaign urging the Australian public not to be misled by the deceitful and politically opportunistic misinformation regarding Australia’s refugee intake, fuelled by parties on all sides of politics.

For decades, Australian politicians have been stoking fear by misleading the public for political gain, by painting asylum seekers arriving on boats as ‘queue jumpers’ – unscrupulous illegal entrants without morals, capable of throwing even their children into the sea. The targeting of refugee boats reached a new low when a deliberate misinformation campaign about ‘The Children Overboard affair’ during the time of ex-prime minister, John Howard that successfully won him the 2001 election. This exploitative use of refugee boats as a key wedge strategy to win votes during the Howard era was crafted by campaign advisor Lynton Crosby. Now, both sides of government are continuing to legitimise this strategy and the last four elections have been won as a result of the exploitation of anti-asylum seeker hysteria stirred by politicians themselves.

Stop the boat policies have always been around including the time of Malcom Fraser. It has re-morphed into “break

the people smuggling model”. Rather than implementing measures to assist asylum seekers achieve safe passage to Australia, the major parties have instead taken hard-line approaches. This has geared towards creating more obstacles for asylum seekers to settle in Australia, particular those who embark on their journey to Australia by boat. Rather than demonstrating genuine efforts to ensure the safe passage of asylum seekers, the latest shifts in government policies are prompted more by border security concerns rather than concerns for refugees. In this year’s lead-up to the federal election, both political parties continue to exploit populist and misinformed hysteria surrounding asylum seekers as a disingenuous means of getting ahead in the polls.

But what is the truth behind Australia’s refugee policies?

FACTS (click below)

Say no to the use of refugees as political currency in election time

RISE represents over 30 refugee and ex-detainee communities in Australia. We urge the Australian public to Stop the Rot to say NO to utilising refugees and asylum seekers as political currency in the upcoming Federal election.

  • admin

    RISE Team 2013

Major Crackdown On Illegal Immigrants After Hari Raya Aidilfitri – Ahmad Zahid

Source bernama, 22 July

PUTRAJAYA, July 22 (Bernama) — A major crackdown on illegal immigrants will be launched by the police, immigration department and Ikatan Relawan Rakyat Malaysia (RELA), after Hari Raya Aidilfitri, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad ZahidHamidi.

Ahmad Zahid said the government viewed the issue of illegal immigrants seriously since their presence may increase crime, drugs, prostitution and other illicit activities that may cause a threat to the country’s security.

"Since the start of the Ramadan month, 120 illegal immigrants were detained throughout the country for carrying out businesses without licence, no work permit and valid travel documents.

"The immigration department will continue to carry out raids to weed out illegal immigrants throughout the country," he said after breaking fast with immigration officers at the Immigration headquarters, here, Monday night.

Also present were Deputy Home Minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and Immigration Director-general Datuk Alias Ahmad.

He added that operations to net illegal immigrants would be carried out at Ramadan bazaars, plantations, factories and construction sites.

Ahmad Zahid said through the 6P programme, 1.3 million illegal immigrants were registered and from that total the application of 500,000 had been processed while 330,000 had decided to return home.

The application of the balance is in the process, he said.

“STOP THE ROT” – Demand Kevin Rudd scraps his PNG deportation plan

Source RISE, 22 July

We at RISE (Refugees Survivors & Ex-Detainees) are dismayed and angered at the announcement by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that Australiawill no longer accept asylum seekers for settlement in Australia. Rudd’s decision to settle all asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea in exchange for increased aid money to the former Australian territory is a disgusting illustration of how refugees and asylum seekers have been used to buy votes in a political race to the bottom.

Offshore processing has proven to be a human rights disaster in the past.Now Rudd wants to punish even more asylum seekers by settling them to a country struggling to maintain infrastructure, safety and support for

its current population. Rudd wants to expand the offshore processing site on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island so that it can house 3000 asylum seekers. Manus barely has capacity to support the 200 people currently there – asylum seekers sleep in hot tents that frequently get flooded during high rains. Medical facilities are inadequate and the incidences of self-harm and attempted suicide have continued unabated since the Manus Islanddetention camp was opened in 2012.

Read more here and take action.

Search called off for asylum seekers missing at sea

Source abc news, Jul 14, 2013 1:32pm AESTAsylum seekers coming ashore 13/07/2013Photo: The survivors have been taken to Christmas Island. (ABC News)

Authorities have suspended the search for survivors from an asylum seeker boat that sank near Christmas Island on Friday night.

The Australian Maritime Search and Rescue Authority (AMSA) says the decision was based on the high probability that it was unlikely there would be any more survivors found.

A baby boy died and eight people remain missing, while authorities rescued 88 people who have since been taken to Christmas Island.

Customs, the Navy, Air Force, chartered civil aircraft and a merchant ship all helped in the search.

It has been revealed that the Australian Federal Police received the first distress call from a Melbourne man on Friday morning who had spoken to a person on the boat who said it was in trouble.

A Customs vessel was directed to assist more than five hours later.

Former Australian ambassador Tony Kevin says lives are being put at risk because of an attitude among authorities that asylum seeker distress calls should not be trusted.

"There’s an entrenched doctrine in the Australian border protection and maritime safety system that distress calls from asylum seekers are not to be believed, that they’re having a lend of us," he said.

"And as long as these attitudes persist in the system, they will go on putting lives at risk, lives that needn’t be put at risk because we have the resources to intercept and save and rescue them."

A spokesperson for AMSA rejected the comments, saying all calls for assistance are taken seriously.

"We have a team of dedicated search and rescue professionals working around the clock to receive calls, to assess the assistance required and then to organise the appropriate assistance as quickly as can practically be done," the spokesperson said.

"AMSA responds to every call to assistance from vessels seeking assistance adhering to convention requirements to respond without regard to the nationality or status of the people or the circumstances in which they are found.

"AMSA reiterates that entering the Indian Ocean in a grossly overloaded, unreliable wooden boat designed for sheltered waters, with no maritime communications, inadequate crew, no life rafts and no distress beacons presents exceptionally grave risks to the passengers, particularly children, and the crew.

"Each incident is managed in accordance with internationally accepted principals and taking [into] account the individual circumstances such as location of the vessel seeking assistance, sea and weather conditions, availability of nearby aircraft and vessels to assist."

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare says there will be a standard internal review of the rescue operation.

A total of 97 people from Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka were on board the ill-fated boat, which officials believe came from Indonesia.

Mr Clare says the Customs ship Triton arrived at the boat around 10pm (AEST) on Friday night.

HMAS Albany and HMAS Bathurst were called for extra assistance. Bathurst arrived at 1:20am and Albany at 4am.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he was saddened to hear of the child’s death and that it underlined the importance for Australia to continue to work with Indonesia to address people smuggling.

‘Sense of loss’

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison has told Sky News the Coalition is open to increasing border protection resources on the frontline to implement the policy of stopping asylum seeker boats.

"I don’t think anyone should doubt anyone’s sincerity about the sense of loss that we all feel when this happens, but this will keep happening unless it stops and it won’t stop until it stops," he said.

But senior Liberal party colleague and former naval officer Peter Debnam again questioned the Coalition’s policy of sending boats back to the country they came from, saying it is difficult to carry out.

Speaking on Sky, he suggested the policy may not be easily achievable.

"When you’ve been on a patrol boat in the middle of the ocean and you’re dealing with small boats, it’s fraught for everyone … it’s a very dangerous situation," he said.

"And yes, you can try and turn them around and send them back to Indonesia but if they don’t want to go it’s going to be very difficult.

"I think the point we’ve all made is that you’ve got to stop people getting on those boats.

"You don’t want to have an argument in the middle of the ocean."

“Plight of Rohingya Moving & Arrivals in Australia”

By James,

A boat load of about 300 Burmese refugees was caught up by Malaysian authority across Lankawi waters on the night of 10 July. Most of them are Rohingyans and the boat was caught after about 30 minutes of departure from the shore.
At the moment, they are detained in Lankawi police lock-up and await for UNHCR’s interference.

Similarly a week before, there was another boat load of more than hundred Burmese refugees was caught up between Lankawi and Thai-waters by Thai-navy forces. All of them are still locked in Thailand police custody.

It is confirmed that all of them are heading to Australia despite the Australian government introduced Pacific Solution from 13 Aug 2012 in order to deter boat arrivals through transferring to the islands of PNG and Nauru. However, the boat arrivals continue, women and kids risk together because they could not reunite under the policy.

Part of such policy, last week about 13 Rohingyans and Burmeses from Chrismas Island and Darwin were transferred to PNG detention camp.
Another boat arrived by last month included 30 Burmeses mix of Rohingya were also transferred to Nauru Island.

The smaller nations like Nauru and PNG are bound to be agreed with Australian projects that encourage business interest potentially undermines refugees’ rights”.

It come to note that poor treatment of refugees is not only found in transit countries but also in developed country like Australia.
These vulnerable refugees will be ended up between the bowling policy while the refugee actor UNCR itself refuses to resettle muslim refugees like Rohingya and Burmese muslims who are the most persecuted and facing ethnic cleansing pogroms from the past six decades.


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