A United Nations specialist has labelled Australia’s policy of indefinite detention for asylum seekers and immigrants inhumane.
Detained migrants spend an average of 732 days locked up with no idea when they might be released, according to the Refugee Council of Australia.
UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Alice Edwards said spending even three months detained in legal limbo could be defined as degrading, inhumane or psychological torture.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday morning, Dr Edwards said those harmed by Australia’s policies deserved reparations.
“I think it is only just that people should be allowed to seek some form of recompense for that treatment,” he said.
Dr Thom said he hoped Dr Edwards’ criticism would motivate the government to change migrant detention policies.
He said Australia had a dreadful international reputation regarding treatment of asylum seekers.
Dr Thom said he wanted to see Australia abide by our international obligations. He said we needed viable options for people to challenge their detention along with explicit timeframes for when changes would happen.
Embrace Refugees Australia refugee development consultant Naomi Chua said indefinite detention caused irreparable damage.
She said many of the individuals and families she had worked with had been stripped of their agency and their hope after dealing with the trauma of detention.
Ms Chua said refugees were hindered in becoming productive and contributing members of society due to the devastating mental health impacts of indefinite detention.