10-year-old Iranian boy sues government of Australia

Published August 29th, 2005 - 12:30 GMT

A 10-year-old Iranian boy is suing the government of Australia for psychological damage he claims to have suffered after being detained for two years at an Australian immigration detention center. 

Shayan Badraie, who was detained along with his parents in the Woomera  Immigration Center in South Australia and Sydney's Villawood Detention Center between 2000 and 2002, says he developed post-traumatic stress disorder while detained, according to <i>IRNA</i>.

Badraie's lawyer, Andrew Morrison, said that the suit was not about the policy of mandatory detention, but rather, about the manner in which such detention is carried out. He said that the detention caused permanent injury to the young child, by a regime "which failed to provide for his medical needs".

Australia currently has one of the toughest policies on mandatory detention of illegal immigrants, illegal workers or those who have overstayed their visas in the world. Detainees are placed behind barbed-wire for what can amount to years while their cases are heard.

Despite criticism by human rights groups, the hard-line policy is thought to have boosted support for conservative Prime Minister John Howard, helping him win four straight elections.


The ten-year old apparently witnessed many traumatic incidents including a riot and a detainee threatening to stab himself in the chest with a broken mirror, all of which resulted in significant anxiety, nightmares, and was unable to eat. He supposedly did not receive adequate medical care while in detention. 

The boy, who was known to draw detention center fences, was granted refugee status along with his family in 2002. He is seeking damages from the Australian government's immigration department and the company that then managed its immigration detention centres.


Australia's conservative government has been embarrassed this year by a string of immigration botches, including the wrongful detention and deportation of two mentally ill Australian women. It released the last 42 children from detention centers in July following an internal revolt against Howard's heavy hand with detainees.


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