The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new challenges for the management of Australia’s immigration detention facilities, and significant risks to health and well-being, especially of people detained in these facilities.

COVID-19 presents some urgent and serious risks for immigration detention facilities, as it does for the management of other enclosed places. This has required changes to the management of immigration detention facilities in order to protect the health of people held in closed detention, facility staff and the broader community.

In mid-2020, the Australian Human Rights Commission commenced a review of this collective response to the human rights risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of immigration detention.

This report documents a number of good practices, and it also makes 20 recommendations to improve human rights protections and ensure that there continue to be no cases of COVID-19 in immigration detention facilities. The Commission’s recommendations can be grouped into two categories:

  1. some measures restrict human rights more than is necessary or proportionate to reduce COVID-19 risks—in these areas, the Commission proposes less restrictive alternative measures
  2. some COVID-19 risks should be addressed more effectively—in these areas, the Commission makes practical recommendations to achieve that result.
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