STRIP SEARCHING -a past technique getting a possible rebirth in the war on asylum seekers

STRIP SEARCHING is a RUDDOCK Cruelty used in the early 2000’s to force Iranians to volunteer to go home and instil terror in others.

It is being proposed for Manus Island camp where there are no means of communication to complain or seek help.

This is what they did last time- lest we forget…

Eoin Blackwell’s report from the Morrison media conference is a sobering reminder of the Governments journey towards torture of asylum seekers.


In 2001 Minister Ruddock sought powers to strip search children as young as 10 years. The Senate refused but allowed strip searching of adult detainees. This opened the door for a most effective method of control. At various times strip searching was carried out with excuses that guards were looking for weapons. After the Woomera fires strip searching was extensive as part of a policy to pressure the Iranians to go home. At first the men were not able to speak of this indignity. They said things such as “they have taken my spirit ”. Then slowly it came out that they were being asked to take off their underpants, bend over and stand with their legs apart while guards roughly examined their genitals.

During 2003 time an immigration official admitted that the Iranians had been strip-searched 6 times. I remember talking to one young man from Africa who told me that he had refused to take off his underwear and so was placed in a room all day. Police and guards came in every hour and asked him if he would strip. He refused hour after hour. He told me that he decided that no matter what they did to him he could not strip. He said that he was shaking and sick when they came after 10 hours. They patted him down and let him go. Two days later he signed to leave the country. They could not send him to his own country so they sent him to Syria on a 6 weeks travel document. There he knew no-one and had never even visited. He would be illegal in Syria within 6 weeks with no passport to go anywhere else. I met him at Tullamarine for a few minutes on his way through. He was a broken man.

In 2004 guards went a room in a compound in Baxter. There they crowded into a room where a young man was lying asleep on his bed. They pulled off his underpants and held him face down. He later reported that something hard and cold was forced into his rectum. He complained to the Police liaison officer in Baxter who after viewing the camera footage said that he saw no evidence so the matter was closed. This boy also complained to the Ombudsman’s office and the Human Rights Commissioner. I rang the priest at Port Augusta seeking advice. He told me that he saw the boy after the incident. He said, “I believe him”. He said that he saw him after the incident and the boy had told him what happened.

I made an official written complaint to the Human Rights Commissioner and spoke to him about my concern that the guard who allegedly assaulted this boy was still in the compound on duty. Two months later another detainee who was recently released, described what had happened in the room next to his at Baxter. He described guards coming, banging and shouting next door and how he was told to get into his room and close his door. He told me that after some time he saw the man in the next room to his, carried out of his room face down, held by his arms and legs- naked. When they got to the end of the veranda, a towel was thrown across his bare buttocks. I then realised that he was describing the same event. Nothing was ever done about this assault. The young man was released from detention and given a visa. There is no way complaints by detainees, witnessed only by detainees are ever taken seriously. The only assault for which a guard was charged was one inadvertently witnessed by 3 chaplains at Baxter.

‘American Torture’- Aussie Style Pamela Curr

19. Morrison refuses to discuss strip searches

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