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This report examines the human rights implications of current risk management practices in immigration detention. It is based on information gathered during inspections of four immigration detention facilities conducted in the latter part of 2018.

The Commission appreciates that the changing detention population has created significant risk management challenges.

However, the Commission considers that the strategies currently being used to manage these risks can limit the enjoyment of human rights, in a manner that is not necessary, reasonable and proportionate.

The Commission is especially concerned about the following issues:

  • Inaccurate risk assessments may result in people in detention being subject to restrictions that are not warranted in their individual circumstances.
  • The use of restraints during escort outside detention facilities has become routine, and may in some cases be disproportionate to the risk of absconding.
  • Conditions in high-security accommodation compounds and single separation units are typically harsh, restrictive and prison-like.
  • Restrictions relating to excursions, personal items and external visits are applied on a blanket basis, regardless of whether they are necessary in a person’s individual circumstances.
  • Australia’s system of mandatory immigration detention—combined with Ministerial guidelines that preclude the consideration of community alternatives to detention for certain groups—continues to result in people being detained when there is no valid justification for their ongoing detention under international law

As previously noted, immigration detention is administrative, not punitive. Any risk management practices used in this context should be the least restrictive possible and be properly tailored to individual circumstances.

The recommendations in this report are designed to assist in effectively managing genuine risks to safety and security, while also protecting the basic human rights of all people held in immigration detention.

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