Every death counts: An argument for counting deaths in immigration custody in the national deaths in custody collection

Rebecca Powell, Leanne Weber, Sharon Joy Pickering

Research output: Contribution to journalComment / DebateResearchpeer-review


The Australian Institute of Criminology ( AIC ) is the Australian Government s designated monitoring body responsible for reporting on deaths in custody in Australia under the National Deaths in Custody Program ( NDICP ). Although the Border Crossing Observatory1 has recorded the deaths of 77 persons in Australian immigration custody since 2000, these deaths are not included in NDICP annual reporting. In Australia, official deaths in custody monitoring and reporting have only accounted for those people who have died while in the custodial settings of prison, juvenile detention, and police custody (Lyneham, Joudo-Larson and Beacroft 2010). Official monitoring and reporting of deaths in custody in Australia does not consider, account for or report on deaths that occur in Australian onshore and offshore immigration detention centres, or deaths that occur while authorities attempt to take a suspected unlawful non-citizen into immigration custody, either in the process of offshore interdiction or on the mainland. We argue that deaths within these immigration custodial settings should be included under existing arrangements for monitoring and reporting in the interests of accountability and equity under the Australian border control regime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113 - 121
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Issues in Criminal Justice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • deaths in custody
  • accountability
  • Australian border deaths
  • Australia
  • Border crossing observatory
  • National Deaths in Custody Program

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