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Commonwealth Ombudsman Inquiry Finds No Weapons Used Against Asylum Seekers

Australia (News4us.com) March 17, 2011

Commonwealth Ombudsman Inquiry Finds No Weapons Used Against Asylum Seekers

Commonwealth Ombudsman Inquiry Finds No Weapons Used Against Asylum Seekers

Last week, the Commonwealth Ombudsman received enquiries and noted weekend media reports of allegations by four asylum seekers, that Serco staff used ‘baton-style or cattle-prod’ like weapons against them during their transfer back to Christmas Island following attendance at funerals for their relatives who died in last year’s shipwreck on15 December 2010.

It was further suggested that video footage taken by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) could include evidence in support of these claims.

The Office of the Ombudsman requested and was provided copies of the video footage by DIAC for the purpose of independent inspection. This has now occurred.

As result of this inspection, the Ombudsman advises that he is unable to find evidence of the use of any type of weapon on the video footage, as was alleged to have occurred.

The Ombudsman reaffirms the Office’s understanding of the following:

  • batons or maglite type torches or other implements that may be confused with ‘cattle-prod’ like weapons are not part of the standard kit of resources used by Serco staff, either in detention centres or during escort activities
  • Serco staff are authorised to use restraints only as a ‘last resort’ and these are limited to handcuffs/flexicuffs, restraint belts and ankle manacles
  • use of any other restraint must be approved by the Secretary of DIAC
  • to date no complaints have been received regarding the use of force related to this incident.

The Ombudsman’s enquiries are ongoing.


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