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  • Writer's pictureDessie

Hotels as places of detention is not appropriate

This week the Australian Human Rights Commission released a report The Use of Hotels as Alternative Places of Detention (APOD) compiled by Lorraine Finlay and Steven Garuana. The Australian Human Rights Commission has raised serious and ongoing concerns about the use of hotels to house people for lengthy periods of detention; some have been held in hotels for months or even years.

This report confirms that hotels are not appropriate for lengthy periods of detention and should be used only in exceptional circumstances and only for short periods as this type of detention can have serious physical and mental health impacts that worsen over time.

Detention in hotels raised issues about isolation, loneliness, lack of privacy, lack of outdoor spaces, exercise, and activities among others.

The Department of Home Affairs agreed with two of the findings in the report, disagreed with five and noted the remaining 17.

The Department agreed with recommendation 18 – Management of Covid-19 Pandemic and recommendation 21 – The Process of Release. Neither of these are significant one relating to Covid 19 requirements and the other regarding standardising advising those acting for people in detention on their release.

The Commission has stated that it is not enough for the Department of Home Affairs to note the Commission’s recommendations without taking any action. Many of the recommendations in this report reflect similar ones made in past reports. The Commission has conducted inspections of immigration detention facilities for the past 30 years.

In the report Ms Finlay noted that: “Since these inspection visits took place in mid-2022, the Commission has welcomed the consistent trend of the overall numbers of individuals detained in hotel APODs being reduced. However, we still consider this inspection report to be relevant for three key reasons.

“The first is that it highlights the way that, in recent years, hotel APODs have come to be seen as a regularised part of Australia’s immigration detention network, rather than being limited to use in exceptional circumstances.

“The second is that hotel APODs continue to be used, albeit that the total number detained in hotel APODs has been reduced. Given this, the observations made in this report about the conditions in hotel APODs are still relevant.

“The third is that the report highlights significant concerns around both the way that releases from hotel APODs have been conducted and the provision of post-release support. These are issues that have broader relevance beyond hotel APODs in terms of the operation of the wider immigration detention network. The Commission hopes that this report will encourage necessary steps to be taken to improve the support that is available, particularly to ensure continuity of medical care when individuals are released.”

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