Australia: Report critical of transfers of asylum seekers to prison

'It's deeply saddening that someone in Australia can spend up to two and a half years in prison without ever being charged or convicted in a court of law. This unacceptable practice should end,' Amnesty International said.

The report found that the practice had amounted to arbitrary detention in a number of cases and that the Australian government had failed to treat people deprived of their liberty with humanity and respect. The report also found that often the Department of Immigration had failed to follow its own guidelines, including a failure to monitor an uncharged asylum seeker whilst in prison.

State governments have given an undertaking not to accept uncharged asylum into their facilities except under 'exceptional circumstances'. However, Amnesty International supports the recommendation by HREOC that legislation should be introduced by the Federal government to ensure that only those charged with an offence are transferred to prisons.

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