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Justice Commission wants full judicial inquiry into Curtin

Melbourne Archdiocese's Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace (CCJDP) Melbourne yesterday called for a full judicial inquiry into the conditions within Australian Immigration Detention Centres.

In a statement released yesterday, it asserted that graphic footage of distressed human beings harming themselves at Curtin Immigration Detention Centre, aired on the ABC TV's Lateline program, "raise grave concerns about the Australian Correctional Management's (ACM) manner of caring for people at Immigration Detention Centres, and about the lack of accountability and transparency within such centres".

The leaked footage, taken during June 2001, showed traumatised people - some bloodied and some in apparently catatonic states -being dragged by guards along the floor and apparently left without medical treatment.

Executive Officer, Marc Purcell, said: "The 'Lateline' footage highlights the reality that when life-threatening disturbances occur in an institution the problem lies not with detainees but with management or in this case, mismanagement."

"The footage showed the apparent failure of ACM officers to treat an unconscious man," he said. "This reflects either a lack of training, a moral failure to assist another injured human being or a willful indifference to their plight."

Meanwhile Bishop Christopher Saunders, the Catholic Bishop of Broome, has deplored the unrest, calling for alternatives to mandatory detention. He says Australia is now paying the price for creating a concentration camp at the Curtin airbase, and argued that detention is not appropriate for the vast majority of non-violent asylum seekers.

"Those who do not have a record of violence, who are assessed not to be violent people, who have what could be assessed as a genuine desire to live a normal family life in Australia, should be treated differently from those who perhaps are a threat to society," he said.

ABC Lateline
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24 Apr 2002