7 April 2022
Around 26 refugees have been released from onshore detention on 7-8 April 2022, joining around 250 people released since December 2020 and leaving an estimated 5 to 6 people transferred from offshore detention for medical reasons still in detention.
Of the 26 people released it is estimated that 8 were from Park Hotel in Melbourne, 9 from Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation (ITA), 3 from Melbourne ITA and the remaining from other detention centres around Australia. This means the infamous Park Hotel now no longer holds any refugees transferred from offshore detention.
These are estimates made in lieu of any transparent communication from the Morrison Government, which has refused to provide basic information to the public about any of the releases over previous years.
This will leave around 6 people transferred to Australia from offshore detention for medical treatment still in detention centres after nine years. The Morrison Government has provided no reason as to why the remaining 6 people are held against their will, while 250 others in almost identical situations are in the community.
The severe mental and physical health risk endured in immigration detention as well as the trauma experienced under this system will continue and will necessitate ongoing expert support for those released. Previously releases have shown a completely inadequate support system that has prevented refugees from accessing mainstream social services and keeps them on precarious temporary visas.
The Time for a Home alliance, of 140 organisations and community networks, is also deeply concerned about the remaining 6 people in detention.
Thanush Selvarasa, human rights activist and refugee detained in PNG, MITA and the Mantra Hotel Melbourne released 28 Jan 2021, said: “So many of my friends have been released! It’s really wonderful news. We have been waiting day by day for the last nine years to join the community, you cannot imagine how happy this makes me. Nobody knows how valuable this news is for me and my friends. This is a victory not just for us but for all those who fought for our freedom.”
“My friends being released is great news, but this is the beginning, we need permanent protection visas, we cannot rebuild our life on a temporary visa. But anything is better than detention.”
Jana Favero, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, said: “This is the moment we have been waiting for, for nine years. Finally, after nine years too long, refugees are granted the freedom they deserve. This highlights the sheer cruelty and viciousness of our policies – that so many can suddenly be released and a handful remain. All remaining must be released immediately.”
Ian Rintoul, Refugee Action Coalition, said: “It’s taken more than two years for the government to live up to its promise to release the Medevac refugees. And there are still more to be released. Every day they are detained is a reminder of the government’s broken promises, and the cruelty of the government’s offshore and indefinite detention policy. They are no different from the Ukrainians we see every night on TV. They need freedom and permanent visas.”
Dr Graham Thom, Amnesty International Australia Refugee Advisor, said: “Three months since the world’s media watched Novak Djokovic come and go from the Park hotel, the refugees who were detained alongside him are finally free. Sadly these men were unnecessarily detained for more than two years in hotels in Australia, following the years of trauma they suffered offshore. The delay in releasing them is inexcusable as is the ongoing detention of other Medevac refugees in other centres around Australia”.
Updated: This media release was updated on 11 April 2022 with new information on the number of people released over the previous week and the number of people still detained.
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