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  • mcprison mcprison Nov 22, 2000 2:08 PM Flag

    Inmate complaints in Austrailia

    AP Worldstream

    November 21, 2000;
    Tuesday

    SECTION: International news

    HEADLINE: Government to
    investigate detention center abuse claims

    BYLINE: MIKE
    CORDER

    DATELINE: SYDNEY, Australia

    Claims that authorities
    tried to cover up allegations of child abuse at a
    remote detention center for illegal immigrants will be
    investigated,the government announced Wednesday.

    The
    decision to appoint an independent investigator follows
    harsh criticism of authorities who run the Woomera
    Detention Center in South Australia state.


    Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock appointed former Foreign
    Affairs Ministry
    bureaucrat Philip Flood to head the
    inquiry.

    Two nurses from Woomera have alleged that
    management of the detention center deliberately suppressed
    evidence that a 12-year-old boy was raped by his father
    earlier this year.

    Refugee support groups
    welcomed the investigation but called for a wider

    probe into detention conditions and the government's
    way of dealing with illegal
    immigrants.


    ''When asylum seeker children arrive in Australia
    without proper papers, we
    mandatorily detain them in
    isolated detention centers run by a private prison
    company,'' said Louis Schetzer, director of the National
    Children's & Youth Law Center. ''Woomera is the 21st century
    equivalent of throwing people
    into a prison
    hulk.''

    Ruddock said the inquiry would deal with the role
    of both the Department of Immigration and
    Multicultural Affairs and the private company that manages the
    center, Australasian Correctional Management.


    ''Mr. Flood will also be asked to make recommendations
    on any area where he
    believes processes need to
    be improved,'' he said.

    ACM is a wholly
    owned subsidiary of the Palm Beach, Florida-based
    Wackenhut Corrections Corp.

    A spokesman for the
    company said it was banned under its contract with the
    Australian government from making any comment about
    operations at Woomera.

    Ruddock has said previously
    that the claims already had been investigated and has
    denied any cover-up.

    South Australian police and
    family services officers also are investigating claims
    children were sexually abused at the troubled detention
    center.

    In the last year, the remote center housed at a
    former missile testing range in the South Australian
    desert about 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) west of Sydney
    has been rocked by riots and hunger strikes sparked
    by complaints over
    conditions.

    Hundreds
    of asylum seekers, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan,
    who entered Australia llegally are housed in the
    center.

 
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