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2009 Media Release: Redevelopment of Villawood should be for detention as last resort

Commission Commission – General

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Redevelopment of Villawood should be for detention as last resort

Human Rights Commissioner, Graeme Innes has welcomed tonight’s federal budget announcement of $186.3 million funding for the redevelopment of Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney over five years.

“This significant commitment of funds will finally see the federal government demolish the aging and prison-like high security Stage 1 area of Villawood Immigration Detention Centre by replacing it with more appropriate and humane accommodation,” said Commissioner Innes. “It is additionally heartening to see that this will be done while improving Stages 2 and 3 through a refurbishment program.”

It has been a long-standing recommendation of the Australian Human Rights Commission, which carries out inspections of immigration detention centres on an annual basis, that Villawood Stage 1 be demolished.

Commissioner Innes stressed that the Government’s stated intention for people to be detained in immigration detention centres only as a last resort be taken into account in this redevelopment.

“If the Government’s commitment to detention as a last resort is to be taken seriously, then we would expect that only a small number of people would be detained in facilities like Villawood, and only for very short periods of time,” the Commissioner said.

“It is essential that any detention which does occur is the least restrictive form of detention possible, that conditions are humane and ensure the inherent dignity of the human person,” Commissioner Innes said.

Commissioner Innes urged the Government to begin the redevelopment process as soon as possible.

The 2008 Immigration detention report can be downloaded from www.humanrights.gov.au/human_rights/immigration/idc2008.html

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay 02 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529