Government Must Change Detention Policy
Monday 21 March 2011
Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission urged the Federal Government to abandon policies which detain asylum seekers and refugees in remote locations for prolonged periods.
The call was made following recent protests and violent incidents in a number of the Government’s immigration detention centres.
The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Government’s policies are adding to the suffering of deeply traumatised people and contributing to a grave injustice.
“The Government’s insistence on detaining asylum seekers in remote, overcrowded locations for prolonged periods is simply outrageous,” Mr Arndt said.
“These are people who have suffered much before they get here and, when they arrive here to seek protection, they are subjected to prolonged and harsh treatment which can only add to their stress and anxiety,” he said.
“The Government’s requirement that people who have been accepted as refugees must wait for long periods in these dreadful detention centres for ASIO security clearances is a totally unnecessary further impost,” he said.
“If we are happy to let tourists and students come into our country without locking them up awaiting a security clearance, why can’t we let these genuine refugees out into the community while these clearances are sought?” he said.
“Is it any wonder that people who are already mentally fragile and stressed react to this seriously unjust processing regime with protests and riots?” he said.
“Add to this the fact that there are still many children locked up in these centres exposed to all this anger and violence and you have an appalling state of affairs,” he said.
“The last thing we need is detention centre staff and police using force to respond to the frustration and anger of detained refugees,” he said.
“The people locked up in these centres have only exercised their right to seek protection from persecution and what they have been subjected to in return is a deplorable abuse of their human rights,” he said.
“The Government’s policies are to blame for what has happened on Christmas Island, at Curtin and Weipa, not the refugees,” he said.
“The Government is subjecting asylum seekers and refugees to the prolonged, mandatory detention which it said it would end even though it knows this causes more mental stress and anguish for asylum seekers,” he said.
“We urge the Government to stop using and building detention centres in remote areas, to stop detaining mentally fragile and traumatised people for prolonged periods, to stop the use of violence to deal with detainees’ frustrations and complaints and to stop detaining children in these centres,” he said.
“Justice demands that the claims of asylum seekers be processed speedily and in accordance with the provisions of all the international human rights conventions and that all claimants be treated with respect and dignity while their claims are processed,” he said.
“This is not happening in Australia now and it must stop,” he said.
For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.
NB This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right. The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.