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May 29, 2005

incarceration is the game

Michelle Grattin reckons that recent events in the unravelling of the Howard Government's policy of mandatory detention has turned into quicksand for its political masters. She says:

An appalling litany of maladministration, bungling and traducing of human rights in detention policy and by the Immigration Department generally has been unfolding for months now, and there is much more to come out. At the same time, the Government is belatedly trying to deal with the problems. But the very bungling that caused them is hampering efforts to fix them.

This is well illustrated by Matt Davidson's cartoon:

CartoonDavidsonVH.jpg Grattin's article is a fine grain detailing of the work last week by the Senate Estimates system.

Thanks to their efforts what was exposed through a process of questioning was the remarkable and inexplicable blundering and maladministration by DIMA (the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs).

Is this kind of work the last throw of the dice by the old Senate? Will John Howard allow this kind of democratic process to continue in the new Senate? Or will the Coalition try and close it down so that politics becomes administration? My bet is on the latter.

In this article in New Matilda Julian Burnside outlines the way the traducing of human rights in Australia has happened behind our backs since 2001.

He says that:

Solitary confinement is properly regarded as the worst form of punishment legally permitted in Australia. Although asylum seekers have committed no offence at all, they are regularly subjected to periods of solitary confinement for weeks or months at a time. The Department of Immigration answers this by saying that detention (including solitary confinement) is administrative, not punitive.

What we have is the systematic, unregulated use of solitary confinement in immigration detention centres. Julian then adds
The Department of Immigration can issue its own search warrants. If police want to raid a suspected murderer's house, they must apply to a magistrate for a warrant. If officers of the Department of Immigration want to raid premises, they can get a warrant from another officer in the Department. In early 2002, Department officers raided a house armed with a warrant issued this way. It turned out that the warrant was issued because an anonymous caller had told them that there were 'some Middle Eastern people' in a street in Armadale, one of Melbourne's 'leafy suburbs'.

It is hard to square this with the basic values of liberalism and the rule of law. What it indicates is the national security state's regime of concentration camps, the normalisation of torture, and the erosion of civil and political rights.

Conservatism rules not liberalism.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 29, 2005 11:14 AM

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Should we place the refugee at the centre of a contemporary analysis of political life? If so, should we continue to think in terms of human rights, or the rights of a human being? Though the the refugee is seen to embody the very necessity of the exis... [Read More]

Tracked on May 30, 2005 11:19 PM

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