The Christmas Island detention centre has been emptied, with all remaining detainees brought to the Australian mainland, the Australian Border Force has revealed. Source: The Guardian.
However the centre, which was reopened by the Morrison Government in 2020 to reduce overcrowding during the Covid-19 pandemic, will remain open as a contingency. This is despite the United Nations calling for it to be closed.
The population in Australia’s immigration detention centres peaked at more than 12,000 in 2013, after which a series of harsh policies including offshore detention and boat turnbacks were used to deter maritime arrivals by refugees and asylum seekers.
When Labor came to government in May 2022, there were 1414 people in immigration detention, a figure that fell to 1079 in July 2023 due to fewer visa cancellations on character grounds and community release for some low-risk detainees.
In June, The Guardian revealed that the last of the detainees on Nauru were being moved off, although that detention centre will be kept open at a cost of $350m a year.
According to the most recent statistics for July, released in September, there were still 37 detainees on Christmas Island’s north-west point immigration detention centre.
But an Australian Border Force spokesperson said it “can confirm that the final transfer of immigration detainees from Christmas Island to the Australian mainland has occurred”.
In December 2022, the UN committee against torture said it was “concerned about the continued operation of the Christmas Island detention centre” and recommended Australia consider closing it.
Christmas Island now empty as all detainees brought to Australian mainland, border force says (By Paul Karp, The Guardian)