The Federal Government has confirmed it is using the Christmas Island detention centre to hold bikies, murderers and sex offenders who have had their visas cancelled on character grounds.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said at a press conference on Thursday that the centre’s high-security facilities would house criminals in the period between the end of their prison sentence and when they are deported to their country of origin.
Mr Dutton said these could also include asylum seekers who had displayed behavioural issues in detention – describing all offending groups as “people otherwise that are on a pathway to exiting our country”.
Mr Dutton confirmed that 35 detainees had been moved to the “hardened” facilities, including 23 to Christmas Island.
“In the situation where there had been behavioural issues, if there’s been assault of another detainee, if there’s been assault of one of the guards,” Mr Dutton said at Thursday’s press conference.
“If for security reasons within the network we need to move people to more hardened facilities, that will happen increasingly so.”
The Immigration Minister said as the number of asylum seekers arriving by boat had dropped, there had been an increase in the detention population of people who had had their visas cancelled.
“I’ve sent a clear message to people in Villawood, at Yongah Hill, otherwise across the network, if you act outside the law, if you threaten guards or harm fellow detainees, there will be a zero-tolerance approach to that,” he said.
“We want the rule of law to operate in our detention centres as it does in society.”
On Tuesday, Mr Dutton confirmed a raid was executed at Villawood Detention Centre that morning after five drug-fueled men allegedly damaged property.
In line with the rules, five people had been removed from the centre and relocated to high-security facilities or solitary confinement.
The Federal Budget released a fortnight ago confirmed immigration detention facilities at Phosphate Hill and Construction Camp on Christmas Island would be closed.
But the budget said by July 2016 “the North West Point facility on Christmas Island will transition to a contingency setting for use as a reception processing site, should it be required”.
– with ABC