Human Rights Watch has slammed Australia’s immigration detention regime, claiming that asylum seekers are now being held for an average of 689 days, a new high.
One month has passed since Novak Djokovic was detained in an Australian prison facility, according to the organisation.
His ordeal brought attention to Australia’s policies, which human rights advocates claim are harsh and inhumane.
According to activists, 32 migrants and asylum seekers remain in the motel.
After his visa to compete in the Australian Open was revoked due to a lack of vaccinations, Djokovic spent five days at a Melbourne facility.
In contrast to the tennis star’s brief stay, a 24-year-old Iranian immigrant has been held in the same building for the past two years with no indication of when he would be released.
“The residents of this building are in desperate need of freedom,” Mehdi Ali, an Ahwazi Arab from Iran, stated. Ahwazi Arabs are a persecuted minority.
When he was 15, he fled to Australia, but has been held by immigration authorities for the past nine years. After years of prolonged confinement, he said he was living a “real-life nightmare” in the hotel, and many others in the complex had suicidal tendencies.
Human Rights Watch said the total of 689 days was the highest ever reported, citing a government data from September. It is regarded to be the longest period of time for a Western country.
In contrast to other countries, where authorities let asylum seekers to live in the community while their claims are processed, Australia detains all boat arrivals.
There are presently 1,459 persons detained under the system, which has no limits on the length of time they can be held.
According to Human Rights Watch, Australia has detained 117 people for at least five years, including eight people who have been held in limbo for more than a decade.
“These numbers demonstrate how alone Australia is among like-minded countries in terms of detaining asylum seekers and refugees indefinitely for years on end,” researcher Sophie McNeill told the media.
“Immigration detention should not be used as a punishment under international law, but rather as an unusual tool of last resort to achieve a legitimate goal,” she said.
Since 2013, Australia has imprisoned all asylum seekers who attempt to enter the nation by boat, guaranteeing that they will never be permitted to stay in the country permanently, even if they are proved to be valid refugees.
Canberra has long justified its harsh policies by claiming that they act as a deterrent to those seeking asylum in the country. It also claims that “stopping the boats” has aided in the prevention of deaths at sea.
Doctors and advocates, on the other hand, have long warned of the “mental torment” that prisoners imprisoned for an unlimited period of time face as a result of this strategy.
In the last decade, at least half a dozen suicides have been reported in Australian prison centres. Detainees who claimed they had been harmed have also received millions in compensation from the government.
Australia’s refusal to accept refugees fleeing persecution violates the terms of the international refugee treaties it has agreed to uphold.
Refugee law experts also think the rules “arbitrary” and unlawful because they only apply to asylum applicants who come by sea. The bulk of unlawful migrants in Australia, according to government data, are foreigners who fly into the nation and overstay their short-term visas.