Iraqis Charged with Assaulting Children in Aussie Detention Center

Published June 20th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Two Iraqis have been charged with indecently assaulting Iranian children at a detention center for illegal immigrants in Australia. 

Abdul Sattar Almayahi and Hussein Ali Mohamed Alghwaizy were remanded in custody after appearing in Broome Magistrate's Court on Friday and will face a district court trial later in the year, officials said Tuesday. 

Almayahi is charged with four counts of indecently dealing with an eight-year-old boy and one of indecently dealing with an 11-year-old girl at the Curtin detention center in West Australia. 

He is also charged with unlawfully detaining a child. 

Alghwaizy is accused of sexually penetrating the same boy. The children are believed to be Iranian. 

Independent Council for Refugee Advocacy president Marion Le said the charges highlighted the dangers children were exposed to and called for the immediate release of all children from immigration detention centers. 

"Detention centers are jails," she said. "No child should be jailed in Australia in such places." 

Le said she was aware of other cases of sexual abuse within immigration centers, but the victims had either not laid charges or had been deported before investigations were completed. 

"The centers are overcrowded places of despair and distress where men, women and children from disparate cultures and experiential backgrounds are thrown together with little or no support," she said. 

"It is obvious that long-term detention will bring all kinds of problems to those incarcerated." 

She said children should be released into the care of community groups, together with their families, until their immigration applications were processed. 

Australia's six detention centers currently house around 3,600 people who entered the country illegally and are awaiting a decision on their request for asylum. The centers are supposed to house 3,100 -- SYDNEY (AFP) 


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