AUSTRALIA'S human rights record will come under a United Nations microscope on Tuesday - just hours after a Christmas Island detention centre riot.
On Monday about 80 detainees, reported to be Iranians and New Zealanders awaiting deportation, began rioting after they heard of the death of Iranian Kurd Fazel Chegeni over the weekend.
The incident comes as the United Nations examines Australia's human rights record under the Universal Periodic Review program, which looks at the records of all 192 member states.
A New Zealand detainee told NZME people being "treated like animals" sparked the riots that saw fires lit and walls smashed.
"It was just a matter of time, all of us knew it. It was a matter of time because of the way they treat people," the detainee said.
"They're meant to be so-called welfare carers. Duty of care is their number one policy and bringing service to us, but they treat us like dogs. We're treated like animals in here."
On Monday the Australian Border Force in a statement confirmed a "major disturbance" occurred, but denied it was a riot.
The detainee said the guards appeared to have left the centre and he was worried they would return with guns.
"They're gone. We can't see them. They'll probably come back with heavy artillery. Everybody's scared, you know. Everybody's panicking," he said.
Serco manages the centre and did not respond to requests for comment.
- APN NEWSDESK