Changes to Queensland’s detention facility laws are drawing “red flags” according to Indigenous advocates.
On Tuesday the Queensland government passed an update to their detention monitoring laws in order to comply with the UN’s Anti-torture subcommittee’s recommendations.
In February the committee had to postpone their unannounced visit to Australia’s detention facilities after both the Queensland and New South Wales state governments were blocking investigators from independently reviewing conditions.
Even though former Queensland Attorney-general Shannon Fentiman says the amendments will allow the committees to conduct their reviews, advocates are saying there is still room for obstruction.
The new laws stipulate that a relevant minister can object to the visit under the grounds of National defence, public safety, natural disaster or serious disorder in the place of detention.
Other stipulations include having an approved expert or interpreter present during interviews with detainees.
Amnesty International’s Indigenous Advisor Rodney Dillion says the stipulations raise “red flags”
“It’s certainly a big excuse isn’t it.
The red flag goes up straight away, If we’re not going to let an Independent person come in and make sure they’re compliant I think that shows that you are covering up something you’re guilty before you start,” he said.
Queensland’s mental health detention facilities are also included in the legislation.
First Peoples Disability Network CEO Damian Griffis, says the delays in reporting is leaving advocacy groups in the dark.
“These facilities are some of the most secretive facilities in the country.
They are almost impossible to access, they are highly controlled environments.
They need close scrutiny so the human rights of the people in these situations can be upheld.
Without having transparent processes to investigate these places then we can’t be sure what’s going on there, Griffis said.
The CEO says the way Australia treats detainees speaks volumes.
“How you define a society is how the most vulnerable are supported, and unfortunately in Australia today we still fail some of our most vulnerable people including First Nations people with psychosocial disability.”
Listen to the full interview with Amnesty International’s Rodney Dillon
Listen to the full interview with First Peoples Disability Network CEO Damian Griffis
Image Credit: Kgbo Via Wikimedia Commons