Charges to be laid against Christmas Island rioters

  • 11/11/2015
Five detainees were said to have been injured in the riots
Five detainees were said to have been injured in the riots

Detainees who took part in a riot at the Christmas Island immigration detention centre face criminal charges after causing more than AU$1 million worth of damage.

The unrest was sparked after a small group of Iranian detainees staged a protest over the death of escapee Fazel Chegeni Najad, an Iranian Kurdish man, on Sunday.

Riot police stormed the centre on Tuesday after others joined the unrest, setting small fires around the complex, building barricades and threatening to use weapons.

Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said five detainees sustained minor lacerations and injuries in the scuffles, and confirmed tear gas was used.

Mr Dutton emphasised that the vast majority of detainees were "hardened" criminals including rapists and murderers, adding a significant number of them were from New Zealand.

He said those who damaged property would be prosecuted once identified.

That could also include any asylum seekers who took part and potentially harm their chances of being granted visas.

Meg de Ronde, campaigns director at Amnesty International New Zealand, says New Zealand missed an opportunity to speak out against Australia at the country's human rights review in Geneva, Switzerland, recently.

"There was an overwhelming majority of countries that spoke out explicitly against Australia's refugee and asylum-seeker policy – a rough count was around 75 percent of countries that spoke raised these concerns around how they treat asylum seekers and how they treat refugees, specifically to do with offshore detention centres," Ms de Ronde told the Paul Henry programme this morning.

"This is the chance to get it on the record. It only happens once every four years, that there is this universal periodic review."

Ms de Ronde says it's important to leverage pressure from the international community to push for change in Australia's policy.

"The chance for us to get on the record that we object to these policies was really important, I think, not only to put pressure on Australia, but to draw a line in the sand and say 'actually we do stand for human rights'," she says.

"A really important thing to remember is the point about about human rights is they are universal – everyone is entitled to them, so you can't pick and choose when you support them and when you don't."

The detainees who have already been convicted are either awaiting deportation or appealing their deportation.

Watch the video to see the full interview with Meg de Ronde.

NZN / 3 News