Sunday, 14 November 2010

Unaccompanied Detained Children in Fight at Melbourne Immigration Detention Centre

AN investigation will be held into a brawl involving about 50 unaccompanied Afghan asylum-seeker boys at a Melbourne immigration detention centre. Department of Immigration spokesman Sandi Logan said the boys were unaccompanied minors and were yesterday involved in “a number of separate scuffles in the dining room” of the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre in Broadmeadows, in Melbourne's west.
The brawl erupted after 98 unaccompanied minors were transferred from Australia's Christmas Island detention centre to the Melbourne centre over the weekend.
Seven of the boys, aged about 15-18, were taken to hospital, most with cuts and bruises and one with a possibly fractured nose.
One boy remains in hospital, with the rest having been returned to the detention centre.
Mr Logan said furniture and windows in the dining room were also damaged during the brawl, which broke out before 8pm, but no staff were injured.
“Victoria Police were called and assisted to restore order in about 30 minutes, with the individuals returned to their rooms,” Mr Logan said.
“The centre is now calm and has been since last night.”
A department spokesman said there were currently 136 people being held at the centre.
Mr Logan said detention services providers would investigate the incident and provide a full report.

[RAP: "Department of Immigration spokesman Sandi Logan said the boys were unaccompanied minors"  RAP wonders whether this was "a brawl" or "separate scuffles" and notes that having been in positions of responsibility in secure institutions that it is a fine line between needing police assistance and not. Often it is the presence of the police itself that decides the seriousness with which an event is viewed. 

The only surprising aspect of this story of unaccompanied, stressed and traumatized children, detained by Australia and then becoming involved in horizontal conflicts and violence is that it wasn't predicted and the risks contained. Primarily, it must be said the risks should be contained by releasing all these children from detention immediately and caring for them according to our international and human rights obligations. And as with most comparable countries stop detaining and criminalizing people for seeking asylum and feigning surprise when people's behaviours reflect their treatment and the contexts in which they're held.]

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