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Australia closes controversial detention centre

  • News Desk

    Agence France-Presse

Melbourne, Australia   /   Wed, January 2, 2019   /   09:09 am
Australia closes controversial detention centre A detainee stands next to the razor wire fence (right) before he jumps and series injured at the Woomer detention center 26 January 2000. The asylum seeker threw himself off the fence as others armed with metal bars attempted to break out. (AFP/Campbell Brodie )

Australia announced the closure of Melbourne's controversial Maribyrnong detention centre on Wednesday, one of several facilities used to lock up immigrants who arrived without papers.

The government said the decision to close the much-criticised facility was "another milestone in the ramping-down of Australia's onshore immigration detention network."

Maribyrnong opened in the middle of the last century, but has recently been the site of hunger strikes and other protests over harsh treatment.

In 2017, the Australian Human Rights Commission -- a government body -- reported guards at the facility used "more restrictive measures than necessary," including the excessive use of restraints during escort.

The few remaining inmates have now been transferred to other facilities.

Immigration Minister David Coleman said successful policies had reduced the number of people held at Australia's immigration detention centres from a peak of 10,000 in 2013 to just over a thousand today.

Around 19 facilities have been shuttered since September 2013 -- as the government looks to elections that will take place by the end of May and intense debate over immigration policies.

The ruling Liberal-led coalition has faced fierce public opposition to its harsh immigration policies, including the use of unpopular offshore detention camps.