Washington International Law Journal


Australia's Migration Act explicitly permits the government to detain non-citizens seeking entry without visas, including those who request asylum. Detainees wait up to five years for their immigration claims to be processed in detention centers managed by Australasian Correctional Management ("ACM"), a subsidiary of U.S. corporation Wackenhut Corrections. Arriving asylum-seekers often suffer the lasting effects of torture, threats of death, and other traumatic conditions-effects that are exacerbated by detention conditions. This Comment emphasizes detention's effects on children, who suffer health and other problems while detained. Detainees, Australian citizens, and overseas commentators are now protesting against the detention policy. The government's response has been unsympathetic and legal challenges have been largely eliminated by Migration Act amendments that have virtually foreclosed judicial review. Further, while international claims are possible under treaties to which Australia is a party, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child ("CRC"), they are generally difficult to enforce. Even the Alien Tort Claims Act ("ATCA"), which grants jurisdiction to United States Federal District Courts over international claims by foreign citizens, fails to offer redress for torts endured while in immigration detention, despite a recent development from the Ninth Circuit that further extends the ATCA's reach over multinational corporations. The ATCA remains ineffective because of difficulties in holding the U.S. parent, Wackenhut, liable for the actions of its foreign subsidiary, the detention management firm, ACM.

First Page