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August 31, 2011


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

This afternoon’s High Court decision highlights the deep and essential flaws in Australia’s refugee policy, according to advocates from the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The High Court is just the latest and the most high profile condemnation of the Gillard government’s treatment of refugees,” said RAC spokesperson Ian Rintoul.

“But the decision only immediately affects the Malaysia deal. It does not preclude an attempt by the government to send asylum seekers to Manus Island.

“It’s disgraceful that Bowen has insisted that he was proud of the Malaysia deal. This was an arrangement that outsourced our human rights violations to one of South-East Asia’s worst human rights abusers. That an Australian government minister can see this as a source of pride is a shocking indictment. Chris Bowen must now rule out off-shore processing, full stop. He hasn’t even ruled out Nauru.

“While the High Court decision was a win for refugee rights, Australia’s basic refugee policy is unaffected by today’s judgment. Christmas Island remains excised, and there are around 6000 asylum seekers in detention.

“The only thing that will actually bring an end to Australia’s inhumane treatment of refugees is for the government to put upholding asylum seekers rights at the centre of its refugee policy. Following Howard’s policy of mandatory detention and offshore processing has been a disaster for asylum seekers and a disaster for Labor.

“There is growing revolt against mandatory detention,” Rintoul continued, “There are cracks in the immigration bureaucracy. Detention health workers are beginning to speak out against the abuse they witness day after day. Opposition is also coming from, the Australian Medical Association, St Vincent de Paul, the ACTU, as well as business leaders like Heather Ridout, not usually known for their outspokenness on human rights issues.

“Opposition is growing inside the Labor Party. Victorian Labor MP, Anna Burke has spoken out and support for Labor for Refugees is growing. Seventy-nine branches in Victoria, alone, have affiliated. Recent polls indicate that community opinion is shifting.

“The government should listen to these voices, and put an end to its vicious and inexcusable persecution of asylum seekers. Until it does so, the suicide, self-harm, trauma and suffering in detention will only continue. As will the protest such as the fires that have broken out in Darwin today.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul, mob 0417 275 713

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