SYDNEY //Australia's human rights body yesterday found the government breached the rights of a nine-year-old girl it detained for more than nine months.
The immigration department should pay Judy Tuifangaloka A$250,000 (Dh1m) in compensation, said Catherine Branson, an official in the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The young girl, her mother and five siblings were taken into detention on October 19, 2004, after their father was deported to Tonga and the rest of the family's visas to remain in Australia were cancelled.
They were held in Sydney's Villawood Immigration Detention Centre until July 28, 2005. "During this time Miss Tuifangaloka witnessed acts of self-harm by other detainees," the commission said.
"The department also concedes that there was a problem with rats in the complex."
Judy told the commission she witnessed seven to 10 men "who had cut their hands and laid down on the ground when news helicopters flew on top of us".
In another instance, a man drank "a liquid which was not for drinking" that her mother later told her was bleach.
Ms Branson found that the cancellation of the family's visas were unlawful and arbitrary.
In her finding, she said that the life of Judy - who was born in Australia but did not attain citizenship until her 10th birthday - and her family was arbitrarily disrupted. Her inquiry also concluded that she was denied the right to liberty and the right to have her best interests as the primary consideration.
The immigration department, which has conceded that Judy's father's removal was unlawful because he held a valid visa, has formally apologised to the girl and is pursuing options for compensation.