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Inside detention


First-person accounts, letters and poems from Australia's onshore and offshore immigration detention centres. Suggested reading, research sources and archived figures. Contributions welcome:

illegal and indefinite

What is wrong with immigration detention
in Australia?

Selected articles by legal scholars and political commentators. Start here to get a comprehensive picture of why indefinite detention violates the human rights of forced migrants and asylum seekers.


  • What are Australia's international human rights obligations?

  • Why is detention illegal?

  • Who benefits from detention?



3 asylum seeker deaths
deaths foretold
Three asylum seeker lives have been claimed by an illegal system

International human rights bodies including the United Nationals High Commissioner for Refugees and organisations such as Amnesty International repeatedly warned the Australian government that the indefinite arbitrary detention would lead to violence of the type that killed Reza Barati. Doctors had condemned the unsanitary conditions of the Manus Island detention camps numerous times before the preventable death of 23-year old Hamid Hamid Khazaei. The violently adverse mental health effects of long-term uncertainty about migration status were well known in the literature before the death of Leo Seemanpillai.



accounts, letters
and poems from
detention centres

Australia's immigration detention centres are full of poets and fervent correspondents. Thousands of emails, Facebook messages and texts are exchanged every week between activists around the country and asylum seekers held in Nauru, in Manus Island, and across the vast network of onshore detention centres around the country. Their chronicles of detention are frank, stark, often funny and invariably resilient. Cameras are not permitted inside detention.


Villawood. Notes From an Immigration Detention Centre by Safdar Ahmed


figures and fences
Selected statistics, infographics and
charts about detention

A collection of statistics, infographics and charts about immigration detention in Australia and beyond.


  • Is it true that Australia's refugee intake is 'generous'?

  • How many people slept behind bars yesterday?

  • How many children are there in Australia's immigration detention?

  • How does immigration detention fit in the broader incarceration figures?

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