Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘Australian Human Rights Commission

Tony Abbott – do not do it!

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Good grief, what politicians will do to win power.  One of the benefits of living in Australia, at least I believe it is still a benefit, is the right to criticise our politicians, even if we are of the same persuasion!

While Mr Abbott continued to condemn the Malaysia option, the carrot for him is that the proposed changes would ensure as prime minister he could send people to Nauru.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/abbott-muddies-water-on-boats-20110912-1k63e.html#ixzz1Xn2wbdfj

Furthermore:

A separate change would also ensure the minister could send children offshore without having to establish this was in their best interests.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/abbott-muddies-water-on-boats-20110912-1k63e.html#ixzz1Xn37Hz84

No.  Definitely not.

May I remind ALL politicians of the requirements of the International Refugee Convention as discussed by Michael Pearce: 

Withdrawal from Refugee Convention may be last resort

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/withdrawal-from-refugee-convention-may-be-last-resort-20110831-1jly1.html#ixzz1WhHoDtzt

At first I thought, “What? We can’t do that!” then I read the article. Michael takes an extremely pragmatic approach to the debate, together with presenting a fresh perspective.

Public policy in Australia seems to have reversed the legal position. The major parties and public opinion seem to say that we should refuse refuge to those who reach our shores and seek asylum because that denies refuge to those in the so-called queue. That is, we should abrogate an obligation which is legally binding on us so that we can comply with an imagined obligation by which we are not, in fact, bound.

Michael goes on to say (emphasis added):

This course will no doubt be very unpopular in some quarters and for good reason. It would signal to all that we, one of the richest countries in the world with enviable space and resources to spare, did not want to share with the bedraggled and desperate few who, by good fortune, wash up on our shores. But this is only to tell the truth about who and what we are as a people.

Would that more people listen to people like Michael.

Why this desire for off-shore processing?  What exactly does it achieve?  Why the desire to send unaccompanied children off-shore?  What does that achieve?

Chris Bowen needs to read some history. 

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said unaccompanied minors presented ”very emotional and difficult issues”. ”The overriding obligation is to say to parents, ‘Do not risk the lives of your children to get the prospect of a visa in Australia.’ ”

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/abbott-muddies-water-on-boats-20110912-1k63e.html#ixzz1Xn5AF2xs

Parents don’t send unaccompanied children in order to get a visa – they send them to save their lives.  What of all the unaccompanied children sent here from England many years ago?  Was that OK because they were English?  I actually work with a woman who is friends with a person who was sent by their parents to Australia to save that (then) child’s life in precisely the same way children are being sent now.  Unless Mr Bowen is totally oblivious to the realities of life, he knows in his heart if he were faced with the same decisions some of these parents are faced with he would do EXACTLY the same thing.  So would any parent.  Do not make glib comments in the media to try to paint parents as being in the wrong for trying to save their children.

Australia MUST remove the guardianship of these children from the position of Minister for Immigration.  It is hard to imagine a greater conflict of interest existing.  How this came about is beyond comprehension.

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Written by Robyn Dunphy

September 13, 2011 at 11:23 am

Australia cops criticism…

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… and rightly so.  While my personal page is off-line as the topic is considered sub judice currently, naturally the two articles I discuss here are close to my heart.

Australia has again been highlighted as the only developed democracy without national human rights law.   Perhaps if we did have such a law, my family and I wouldn’t be in the position we are currently in.  It has been interesting, as I discovered neither the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 nor the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 are scheduled to or declared under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act.  I was not aware of this until last week and I am horrified.  I hope all Australians are horrified at such a discovery.

The second article was written by Malcolm Fraser.  Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister of Australia from November 1975 for seven years.  I remember him well, as I had recently arrived in Australia in February 1974.  Malcolm has been involved in humanitarian work for many years.  He points out the regression in Australia’s policies since that time 35 years ago when we welcomed Vietnamese refugees.  That community is now, he tells us, nearly a quarter of a million strong and contribute greatly to Australia.  What changed?

What I have learnt about Civil and Human Rights in Australia over the past year has been enlightening: yet not in a way I would have ever expected.  It has been a sad year for me personally, of course, but I cannot consider only my personal situation.  I am horrified when I consider the possible extrapolation of my situation across the country.  I am still haunted by the images of the Christmas Island tragedy and the Christmas Island detention conditions.

It is time: time Australians stood up for what is right.

Australia’s Christmas Island

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Zulu Dormitory, Christmas Island

What images does the word Christmas conjour up for you? Fun, laughter, love, family?

Yesterday it was reported that several asylum seekers have stitched their lips together at Australia’s Christmas Island detention facility.  I am not at all surprised.  When you herd people together in facilities such as that place, serious consequences are going to follow.

This facility was recently the subject of a report by the Australian Human Rights Commission, which can be found here. The photos, a couple of which is shown here, are graphic illustrations of what we are doing to those people fleeing conflicts, in at least one case a conflict in which we ourselves are involved: Afghanistan.

Not only does Australia have adults in mandatory detention, we also have unaccompanied children in detention, being denied access to education in many cases.
Tents in Red Compound, Christmas Island IDC

 

It is interesting to note that our nation’s desire to house asylum seekers off the mainland was essentially nothing more than a way to deny them access to the Australian legal system.  Their claims for protection could be assessed outside the legal framework.  Thankfully, The High Court of Australia recently handed down a decision which closed this little loophole and it was reported today at least 150 refugees will be granted new hearings.

We, Australia, have accepted an international responsibility to provide asylum.  Yet, according to the ASRC we take a disproportionately small number compared to other countries.  Why?  We are a rich and large nation.  We can afford to share our wealth and our good fortune.  Many refugees have made wonderful contributions to our nation, a gold medal winner at the recent Commonwealth Games being one such example from the sporting world.  There are many others.

Recently there was a suggestion that we pay asylum seekers $4,000 to go back to the very places they fled from in the first place.  What, may I ask, is $4,000 going to do?  Very little.

We insist on mandatory detention.  Why?  The ASRC can show it costs much, much less to house people in the community.  Renown psychologists warn repeatedly of the dangers and inhumanity of mandatory detention.  The UN has criticised our treatment of asylum seekers.  Yet we persist.  Why? I suggest that in no small part it is because of a vocal minority who spread misinformation, unfounded fear and vilification and that sells papers.

Christmas Island.  What images does the word Christmas conjour up for you? Fun, laughter, love, family?  Father Christmas and presents?  Perhaps the odd uncle or aunt who over indulges at the family celebration?  For our detainees, the people we as a nation choose to imprison, the word will be forever tainted in their memories.  What do you think?

Photo credit: AHRC Report : “Immigration detention on Christmas Island 2010

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 20, 2010 at 9:37 am