Families trapped in Darwin’s Mercure Airport Hotel prison must be released

Three families, all recognised as refugees and including four women, must be released immediately into the community to end their physical and mental anguish after eight years trapped by the Australian Government’s cruel offshore detention policy.

The families, who were medevaced to Australia from Nauru where they were detained for more than six years, have now been stuck in the Mercure Airport Hotel in Darwin for more than 15 months.

After visiting the families, which include four women, former Socceroo and Game Over ambassador, Craig Foster, said: “Seeing these wonderful people, hearing the pain and suffering they have endured for so many years, is truly heartbreaking. We could release them into the community right now while they wait to be resettled in the US. What purpose does it serve to keep them locked up?

““The four women still detained in Darwin are the only women, of all the women taken offshore eight years ago, who are still in detention, with no clear reason why. We’ve got married couples here who have been forced to sleep on bunk beds in tiny rooms. The mental health impact is all too apparent.

“Their anguish needs to end. After eight years it is time for this shameful chapter in Australian history to end. I implore the Australian Government to do the right thing and set them free.”

Amnesty International refugee coordinator, Dr Graham Thom, said: “With the Australian Government releasing most of those held in these hotel prisons, including those in Brisbane, Melbourne, and one family from the hotel in Darwin, since the beginning of the year, it is unclear why these three families remain.

“Many were brought here for medical treatment due to the psychological trauma caused by detention on Nauru and rather than getting treatment the harm has only been exacerbated by indefinite in the Mercure hotel in Darwin.

“Enough is enough, it is time they were released, given proper treatment and allowed to get on with their lives.”