Turning the detention centre inside out: Counterveillance of state-organised crimmigration in Australia

A/Prof. Greg Martin1
1University Of Sydney, Camperdown, Australia

This paper proposes crimmigration in Australia should be seen in the broader context of criminalisation that has occurred in other areas since September 2001. Key features of crimmigration in Australia include increased militarisation and secrecy surrounding immigration operations and border control. By outsourcing immigration detention in offshore facilities run by private companies, the paper argues the Australian regime is analogous to Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib; both described as ‘black sites’, or closed institutions, where the rule of law is suspended and external monitoring of conditions and treatment of detainees is absent. Insofar as cruel and inhumane treatment of refugees violates international law, and is part of a deliberate system of bureaucratically administered mistreatment, abuse, and ultimately torture, the paper proposes crimmigration in Australia amounts to ‘state-organised crime’. However, despite efforts to keep conditions in Australia’s offshore detention centres secret (e.g. by criminalising disclosure), information about camp conditions has slowly leaked out. The paper conceives of these actions as examples of ‘counterveillance’, which aim to turn the detention centre inside out in order to hold officials to account and make human rights violations visible in accordance with democratic principles.


Greg Martin is Associate Professor of Socio-Legal Studies in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney, Australia. He has published widely in criminology, law and sociology, and is sole author of Crime, Media and Culture (Routledge, 2018) and Understanding Social Movements (Routledge, 2015), and co-editor of Secrecy, Law and Society (Routledge, 2015). He is an Editor of The Sociological Review, Associate Editor of Crime Media Culture, and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Social Movement Studies.



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