BR4R has successfully lodged a submission to the Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020 [Provisions] inquiry … what a mouthful!
This bill is intended to give the power to the Minister to declare ANY item a prohibited item. It would also allow officers to search (without a warrant) and seize any such items. This also includes the authority to strip search and to use sniffer dogs.
This bill is over-reach, as similar powers currently exist. However, the current laws are limited to specific things that are of concern, such as dangerous items and illicit drugs.
It is of great concern that this bill intends to extend this list to include virtually anything
that the minister decides.
The wording of the bill is that the prohibited item ‘might be a risk to the health, safety or security of persons in the facility, or to the order of the facility’. This is a very broad statement that could encompass almost anything.
The current minister wants to prevent any information about the conditions inside detention centres from reaching the public. This has been demonstrated by guards illegally confiscating such menial items as art materials (paint, brushes & paper) as these were being used to make posters critical of the conditions the refugees were experiencing. Under the amendment it would become legal to seize such items as they could be described as being a risk to ‘the order of the facility’.
Of greatest concern is the threatened removal of mobile phones and computers.
These items are ESSENTIAL for the survival of the refugees. This is not a flippant (frivolous?) statement. Without the communication afforded by such devices the mental health of refugees deteriorates rapidly and can contribute to self-harm and suicide.
Mobile phones and computers are a vital link between refugees and their families and their supporters. They are also crucial for effective communication with their medical practitioners as well as their legal support. These are all basic human rights and are directly related to the health and safety of refugees.
BR4R felt that it was an important part of our advocacy work to lodge a submission to outline the detrimental effects of this amendment. Our submission will now be seen by the Senate Standing Committee and we hope it will help to convince them that this amendment should not proceed.
BR4R is proud to speak up to be a voice for those refugees who are denied the right to speak for themselves.
For a more detailed description of the consequences of passing this bill see the Human Rights Commission page on the internet https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/legal/submission/migration-amendment-prohibiting-items-immigration-detention-facilities-0