Farhad Bandesh

Prohibiting items bill support collapses in the face of people powered pressure

Legislation seeking to remove mobile phones from refugees and asylum seekers in detention has failed to secure support in the Senate, with Jacqui Lambie confirming she will vote against the Bill.

The Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill sought to give Border Force increased powers to remove mobile phones which for many refugees and asylum seekers in detention is a literal lifeline to stay in contact with support networks and legal representation.

The phone is the only lifeline to video all our families, friends and lawyers. Without a phone there won’t be hope. 

Farhad Bandesh

“This is a victory for common sense, compassion and human rights,” Amnesty International Australia Refugee Advisor Dr Graham Thom said.

“Amnesty International has been very clear on our stance on this bill: it will violate international law and is designed to ‘fix’ an issue that does not exist – it warrants power to officers over detainees that is not needed.

“Thousands of people contacted key Senators to express their extreme concern about this bill and we’re so glad their voices have been heard and acknowledged.

“We welcome Senator Lambie’s decision: it’s the right one. The potential for this Bill to deny asylum seekers their rights and crush their already fragile spirits was unconscionable.

Immigration detainee Farhad Bandesh said a mobile phone is much more than a function object, but that it symbolised hope for those languishing in detention for years on end.

“You know the phone is critical not just for refugees, it’s for everyone who is in detention and in the community. I believe if we are part of the community and we are humans –  why can’t we use this device? The phone is the only lifeline to video all our families, friends and lawyers. Without a phone there won’t be hope.” 

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