JRS calls for Villawood "prison" demolition

The director of Australia's Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has called for the demolition of Sydney's Villawood detention centre's high security section saying the "prison-like conditions" were unjustifiable.

Fr David Holdcroft says he supports a Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) recommendation made last week that the high security section at the centre - known as Stage 1 - be demolished.

"The conditions in Stage 1 at Villawood detention centre are in urgent need of a drastic overhaul," Fr Holdcroft said.

"However, these improvements must take place within the context of a broader review of the use of high security detention.

"Routine prison-like incarceration is unjustifiable. It should only be imposed as a measure of last resort," he said.

As a weekly visitor to Villawood, Fr Holdcroft said he has a more intimate knowledge of the conditions imposed on detainees and the impact on their physical and mental health.

"The opportunities for recreational activities are so minimal as to be almost non existent," he said.

"Absent any specific security concerns, there is no reason detainees from Stage 1 should be excluded from activities permitted in other sections," he said.

"Stage 1 is only small and boredom and anxiety over cases are big factors for the detainees on a day to day basis."

Prison-like incarceration must end, says Villawood priest (Jesuit Refugee Service media release 15/01/08)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Jesuit Refugee Servicves
Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission homepage
Villawood Detention Centre (Wikipedia)

16 Jan 2008