"Lancaster State Prison"

"Lancaster State Prison" by Rennett Stowe on flickr

S**t’s Going Down in Australia

Australia has experienced all sorts of problems with its private prisons in the past, similar to the US’s experience.  But this week has brought a new slew of issues to the forefront.  Private prisons in Australia are used primarily to house immigration detainees. 

At the Christmas Island Immigration Detention Center, prisoners have been rioting and burning the facility for at least 3 days. Frustrated with the government dragging its feet on whether or not to grant asylum, the immigrants have been fighting with the prison and police for days.  Over at the North Point Correctional Centre, prisoners have begun burning various parts of the facility.  As one of the Christmas Island asylum seekers said, “They have been here a long time and got rejected without reason…They can’t stay in detention like animals waiting, waiting with no justice.”  The situation is so bad that guards with just 2 weeks of training have been called in, and many asylum seekers are being placed in solitary confinement, which opens up a whole new can of worms that for the sake of brevity I’ll only mention that once.

Inspired by their brethren at Christmas Island, mainland asylum seekers have begun to protest the conditions of their confinement as well, launching a hunger strike at the Cape York AFB.  The facility is operating at almost 200 percent capacity, as immigrants in Australia, like in the US, remain incarcerated in a sort of legal limbo.  The plight of these prisoners has caught the attention of the Human Rights Alliance, who is calling on the UN to step in and require UN monitors to be placed at some of the private prisons to monitor conditions.  Because “Human courtesies, peoples’ rights and their very dignity were disregarded. Asylum Seekers distressed were screaming not only for themselves however out of care for each other. Some distressed guards were appalled at the sheer inhumanity by the actions of the AFP (Australian Police Force) and other guards.”