Weekly media wrap - 16 February

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) called for a Royal Commission into the policy of holding children in immigration detention, following the government’s release of its The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention report. The report found more than a third of children in detention in the first half of 2014 had serious mental health disorders. It found more than 300 children committed or threatened self-harm in a 15-month period, 30 reported sexual assault, nearly 30 went on hunger strike and more than 200 were involved in assaults.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott criticised the report as ‘a blatantly partisan politicised exercise’, questioning ‘where was the Human Rights commission when hundreds of people were drowning at sea?’ Professor Triggs said she made the decision to hold the inquiry last February because the release of children had slowed down over the first six months of the new Coalition Government.  

The government announced there would not be a Royal Commission into children in detention.

 More than 200 Australian organisations (including Asylum Insight) signed a letter calling on parliament to stop holding children in immigration detention.

Meanwhile, it emerged through Fairfax media that the government had sought the resignation of AHRC president, Professor Gillian Triggs.

The High Court ordered that the Immigration Minister grant a permanent protection visa to a Pakistani refugee. It unanimously found the decision by former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison not to grant the visa on national interest grounds because the man was an unauthorised maritime arrival was illegal.

Around 300 people were feared drowned after four people-smuggling boats sank in the Mediterranean. Twenty-nine people died of hypothermia aboard Italian coastguard vessels after being picked up from a boat adrift near Libya.