Asylum Seekers and Refugees
Seeking asylum is not illegal. Everyone fleeing persecution from their own country has a right to seek asylum in another country.
Issues involving people at present seeking asylum in Australia are confusing.
Seeking asylum is legal, not illegal as some politicians are claiming.
Coverage of the various political and ethical issues involved can be found in a number of sites:
- Catholics in Coalition for Justice and Peace.
- Jesuit Refugee Service.
- Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee.
Still No Room In The Inn
There is still no room in Australia for many vulnerable people seeking our protection. Recently some of them have been sent back to dangerous situations in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Some have actually chosen to go home rather than face a non-future in Nauru.
So what's wrong with sending asylum seekers to Nauru or Manus Island?
- This strategy fails to honour Australia’s obligations under international law and the Refugee Convention. We have signed up to receive and resettle in our national community people whose fundamental human rights have been denied or threatened in their own country. To seek asylum is a human right; to do so is never illegal.
- In practice, the Nauru 'solution' is punishment, not protection. After four days on Nauru as an independent assessor of conditions there, Graham Thom, Amnesty International's refugee policy expert, reports (SMH, 26/11/12) that the men’s physical and mental health is clearly deteriorating. The whole project, he believes is extraordinarily ill-conceived and cruel.
- Fr Aloysius Mowe at Jesuit Refugee Service agrees that the policy is 'cruel, inhumane and immoral'. 'As one of the few signatories to the Refugee Convention in this region, Australia should be acting as a beacon of protection for asylum seekers and refugees. Instead, it is providing an example to other countries as to how to deter desperate people from seeking asylum, and how to punish those who do'.
We are challenged to raise our voices against the injustice of this policy.
Support For Asylum Seekers
Sr Mary OP is part of a volunteer support team visiting detainees at Villawood Immigration
Her article in Tui Motu outlines the shift in the way asylum seekers can be treated after a recent High Court of Australia decision.