MPs Learn Rau Had No Privacy In Isolation Cell
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 22, 2005
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA--The isolation cell in which Cornelia Rau was incarcerated for two months last year did not allow her any privacy or stimulation, a group of inspectors revealed this week.
The group, which consisted of six Members of Parliament and other government officials, visited the Baxter immigration detention center to see for themselves what the Australian woman, who has schizophrenia, had to endure.
They found that mirrors and video security cameras installed there allowed guards to monitor nearly every inch of the cell, including the shower and toilet area.
"There's no doubt that there is zero privacy and zero stimulation, it was a totally barren room," Democrat deputy leader Andrew Bartlett told the Courier-Mail.
"There were very stark facilities and that's certainly not something you would want to put anybody in for any length of time, let alone somebody that's already got mental illness difficulties," he said.
A former head of the Australian Federal Police is leading the official investigation to determine why the 39-year-old Australian citizen was held as a suspected illegal immigrant at Baxter detention center for four months and in a Brisbane jail for six months.
Rau walked away from a Sydney psychiatric ward in March of 2004. Two weeks later, when police picked her up a thousand miles away, Rau spoke to them only in German and gave them a false German name. After finding no records of her in Germany or Australia, police suspected Rau of being an illegal immigrant and turned her over to immigration officials who then sent her to Baxter detention center.
She was finally released this February after family members identified her from news reports.
So far the investigation has revealed a series of blunders and alleged abuses within the immigration detention system. Chief among those are claims that officials ignored recommendations for her to receive psychiatric treatment and that staff treated her roughly.
"Rau cell at Baxter had 'spy mirror'" (Courier-Mail)
"Immigration Officials Accused Of Mistreating, Ignoring Rau" -- April 6, 2005 (Inclusion Daily Express)