New Zealand Labour Party

Detainees isolated and desperate

New Zealanders in Australia’s remote Christmas Island Detention Centre have spoken about the trauma of being locked up thousands of miles away from their families in a facility designed to house people considered to be a terrorism threat.

Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis gained access to some of the 40 New Zealanders being detained while appealing against their deportations yesterday.

He says the five hour visit was highly emotional: “We were able to hear about all the alleged human rights violations and assess their health and well-being.

“They’re angry, hungry, traumatised and so desperate to return to their homes in Australia they are even considering rioting.

“These New Zealand born Australians are not murderers or rapists. They have served their time yet Australian authorities are treating them as though they are a terrorism threat.

“The stories of the eight detainees we met were all consistent. They hate the isolation, the lack of family contact, and the lack of contact with legal support.

“None of them want to take up John Key’s proposal to return to New Zealand to settle their visa applications. They think it’s a trick designed to prevent them from returning to their families and jobs in Australia.”

He said he was grateful to Australia Border Force superintendent Maritime Operations WA, Mark Wilson, who allowed the five hour visit.

“We were drug tested on arrival, then escorted into an airless visit room where the detainees were brought in two at a time for 30 minute visits.

“We weren’t allowed to film or record their stories so we sat and yarned, laughed and cried about their plight.

“We also took a box of chocolates for Ricardo Young who turns 30 today, and whose family asked us to take him a cake after we met them in Sydney. However such is the ridiculousness of the rules the authorities couldn’t decide if he was allowed the chocolates.

“These people are not terrorist threats and they don’t deserve to be locked up thousands of kilometres away from their families,” Kelvin Davis said.