Child detention report to unveil harrowing findings after months of delay and sniping - Richard Ackland for the guardian

9 February 2015

Human rights chief Gillian Triggs says writing her report has been a ‘life-changing experience’ – but has attracted heavy fire from the critics.

Gillian Triggs, the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, at the national inquiry into children in immigration detention last year. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

The president of the Human Rights Commission (HRC), Prof Gillian Triggs, says her forthcoming report on children held in immigration detention is both “scientific and credible”.

Speaking at an international law conference at the University of Sydney, Triggs said preparation of the report was a “life-changing experience” for her.

She visited 11 detention centres, conducted 1,129 interviews, held five public hearings, received 239 submissions, and took evidence from nine medical experts.

Throughout her investigation she was subject to vituperative criticism from the government and its supporters in the Murdoch press. It was even suggested that it was improper to commence the inquiry after the Coalition came into government.

Triggs said on Friday that the inquiry is part of a 10-year follow-up review of the HRC’s 2004 findings on children in immigration detention. When the new review was being planned there had been limited releases of children and the average time in detention had been 1.3 years.

She said that the report will “tell the stories that moved me ... The findings are important ... Nothing should take away our humanity and the need to respond to these concerns.”

The stories she heard and the evidence she received are harrowing. Lives ruined by incarceration, uncertainty and crushed hope. The public submissions can be read here.

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