Sri Lankan man dead in immigration detention

A Sri Lankan man has died in a government-run facility in Sydney.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has confirmed a man died at the Sydney Immigration Residential Housing (IRH).

The Sri Lankan man was discovered in distress in his accommodation at the facility.

“An ambulance was called immediately and they commenced CPR but the man was pronounced dead shortly after midnight,” said a DIAC spokesman.

“Police were called to the scene and will investigate the circumstances around the man’s death which is expected to become the subject of a Coroner’s inquest.”

Counsellors will be available to assist and support the facility’s detainees and staff today, and throughout the week.

Until the deceased’s next of kin overseas are informed, the department has refused to release further details regarding the man’s age or the circumstances of his detention.

Opened in 2006, the Sydney Immigration Residential Housing (IRH) is located adjacent to the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre.

Why are people detained in Australia

Australia’s immigration detention policy was introduced in 1992.

Australia’s Migration Act 1958 requires people who are not Australian citizens and who are unlawfully in Australia to be detained, says the Australian Immigration Department’s website. Unless they are given legal permission to remain in Australia by being granted a visa unlawful non-citizens must be removed from Australia as soon as reasonably practicable, the site says.

However the detention is not to be confused with prison.

“Immigration detention is not used to punish people. It is an administrative function.”

Who are illegal immigrants in Australia

People who are not Australian citizens are ‘unlawful’ if they do not have a valid visa giving them permission to be in Australia. Usually, ‘unlawful non-citizens’ are people who have:

  • arrived in Australia without a visa
  • overstayed their visa
  • had their visa cancelled.

How are people treated in a detention facility

The Immigration department says that care and security of accommodation for people in immigration detention is based on humane principles and standards. “A suite of immigration detention placements have been developed to place people in immigration detention in living arrangements that are appropriate to their needs.”


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