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Legal and ethical implications of medically enforced treatment of detained asylum seekers on hunger strike

Kenny, M.A., Silove, D.M. and Steel, Z. (2004) Legal and ethical implications of medically enforced treatment of detained asylum seekers on hunger strike. Medical Journal of Australia, 180 (5). pp. 237-240.

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Abstract

Hunger strikes by asylum seekers have occurred in Australia since the introduction of the policy of mandatory detention over a decade ago. At times, the number of asylum seekers involved in this form of protest has reached crisis point, with over 200 detainees embarking on a hunger strike at the Woomera Immigration Reception and Processing Centre in 2002. Hunger strikes are a politically charged issue, with the former Australian Minister for Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (Phillip Ruddock) asserting that such actions are manipulative efforts by detainees to gain refugee status. The Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) can authorise physicians, under Migration Regulation 5.35, to provide non-consensual medical treatment. In 2001, DIMIA issued about 40 authorisations for compulsory medical treatment. Such actions risk violating international medical guidelines. It is therefore timely to examine both the legal and ethical implications for doctors if they coercively rehydrate or forcefeed detained asylum seekers.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Law
Publisher: Australian Medical Association
Copyright: Australian Medical Association
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/12438
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