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Australia shutters notorious offshore asylum camp

Australia shutters notorious offshore asylum camp

AUSTRALIA: A notorious Australian immigration detention camp on remote Christmas Island has been shut, the government said today (Oct 5), hailing the success of its hardline policies in ending a flood of asylum-seeking boat people.

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By AFP

Friday 5 October 2018, 11:57AM


A screengrab shows the entrance sign of Christmas Island immigration detention centre on Christmas Island, Australia. Photo: AFP

A screengrab shows the entrance sign of Christmas Island immigration detention centre on Christmas Island, Australia. Photo: AFP

The facility on the Indian Ocean territory some 2,300 kilometres northwest of the Western Australia city of Perth had been the site of riots, deaths and alleged rapes and self-harm since it was opened in 2008.

“The centre has now closed, with around 30 remaining detainees transferred to mainland detention facilities last weekend,” a spokesman for Immigration Minister David Coleman said.

The centre was a key part of Canberra’s efforts to shut down the asylum-seeker smuggling trade, with arrivals sent to Christmas Island or other offshore Pacific camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

At one point, boats were arriving almost daily from departure sites in Indonesia and Sri Lanka carrying desperate migrants from Afghanistan and the Middle East, with some vessels sinking en route.

Under a zero-tolerance policy followed by the conservative government since late 2013, boats were turned back and asylum-seekers were banned from resettling in Australia, eventually choking off the flow of illegal arrivals.

“At its peak in July 2013, there were more than 10,000 people held in immigration detention, including 2,000 children,” Coleman said as he blamed the previous Labour government for the arrivals.

“This government has stopped the boats, stopped the evil people smuggling trade and removed those children from detention.”

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The policy was severely criticised by the United Nations and human rights groups amid horror stories of poor conditions, abuse, suicides and despair as some detainees including children languished in detention centres for years.

The Christmas Island camp, which more recently also held non-citizens convicted of crimes awaiting deportation, was the site of a two-day riot in 2015 after the death of an asylum-seeker outside the facility.

Concerns about suicides at the camp had become so serious at one point that staff were reportedly told to carry knives at all times so they could cut down detainees who tried to hang themselves.

The island was also the site of a deadly asylum-seeker shipwreck in December 2010, with estimates of almost 50 people killed as the wooden fishing boat shattered on rocks in a storm.

Only 42 people were rescued before the search for survivors was called off. It was the worst disaster involving an asylum-seeker boat bound for Australia since the sinking of a ship off Indonesia in 2001, when all 353 on board died.

Coleman said the Christmas Island centre would be “kept in a state of operational readiness” so it can be re-opened at short notice if needed.

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DeKaaskopp | 07 October 2018 - 17:20:34

As very little in Thailand has earned  his respect,maybe hinny should consider the last two words of  Gerry's comment.

DeKaaskopp | 06 October 2018 - 11:10:21

I have to agree,Gerry.But the word"Respect"doesn't exist for the new generation of colonialists on here.

Pauly44 | 06 October 2018 - 10:48:43

Take note of what, a reader posting their opinion, ha, you should respect other people's views and also take note you are constantly defending a country that prefers if you weren't in it, how futile! I follow the laws of every country I visit however respect has to be earned, it is not automatic, so far I seen very little in Thailand that has earnt mine! 

BenPendejo | 05 October 2018 - 19:15:10

Well eMatt...we can respect the country and its people without respecting and validating the corrupt government and police that are the root cause behind 99% of the problems.  I really feel bad for the average Thai that has generally come to accept that most of their hopes and opportunities have been hijacked by the rich and greedy. The power structure here is destroying their own country.

ematt | 05 October 2018 - 17:33:37

Thanks Gerry. Re: "Behave and show respect for the country you choose to live in or stay away."  Phuket News posters, take note!

GerryT81 | 05 October 2018 - 16:48:53

I agree.Same has to be said about those who come to live in my country or any other country , not willing to  integrate, or even worse constantly arguing about our beliefs and our way of life. And i'm not only talking about asylum seekers. Behave and show respect for the country you choose to live in  or stay away.

Discover Thainess | 05 October 2018 - 13:03:04

I wish Europe would follow the same hardline policy and send these economic migrants back to where they came. The UK in particular is bursting at the seams already and simply can not afford to keep taking so many people every day. 

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