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Senate Report into Mobile Phone Ban in Immigration

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

5 August 2020

The Senate Report into the mobile phone ban in immigration dropped today at 2pm. Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020

Refugee advocate Jane Salmon said today:

The inquiry was flawed. Very little notice of the inquiry was given. Home Affairs dropped their submission less than 17 hours before the inquiry began.

The presentations were brief. George Newhouse, the human rights lawyer who secured the injunction against a mobile phone ban in 2017 was not given the opportunity to make a presentation. Serco gave evidence in camera. Their pitch is that guards feel “harassed” if violence is filmed on phones. The OH&S privacy of guards is being pitted against the human rights of vulnerable detainees. Video of life threatening 'knee on neck' technique used in Immigration Detention centre. Naturally the safety of guards is an issue. However the pile-ons of padded up and armed staff against drugged or sedated refugees seem totally excessive. Guards have been accused of couriering drugs and Covid-19 into detention centres where personal protective equipment (PPE) is inadequate. The capacity of detainees to contact their families and their lawyers by phone is vital. People in the 21st century have a right to mobile phones. In every case, the Morrison Government favours an “out of sight/out of mind“ approach to refugee and immigration detention. Christmas Island with its poor internet is part of that. So is Yongah Hill. Shunting around people who have already been cruelly slurred, or abused for minor mistakes, with punitive arrests, and retributive removal of property, is excessive and seems like further creeping fascism. The constitutional rights of detainees are under challenge. Read more from the Guardian Australia's piece Dutton’s bid to ban mobile phones in immigration detention centres could be unconstitutional How about the government INSTEAD focuses on kindness, freedom, spending on PPE and quality aged care, rather than oppressing those they have demonised?  Treat others as you would yourself want to be treated.

Read more from the Australian Human Rights Commission's

Jane Salmon NSW Australia


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