Regarding our earlier urgent appeal (29-05-2001) on brutal treatment of asylum seekers in Australia, we are sending you some news update to draw your continuous attention and support.
Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission
The Australian Immigration Minister, Philip Ruddock, has made a scathing attack on a report calling for changes in the treatment of asylum seekers.
The joint parliamentary committee has called for limits on detention times and family facilities.
The committee members say they were all moved by the Experience of meeting asylum seekers. Labor Member Colin Hollis says his views have completely changed.
\”I went from being…somewhat of a hard-liner as with regard to people who come here,\” Mr. Hollis said.
For the first time, a parliamentary committee had access to detainees directly, holding 13 meetings in six centres without the presence of Immigration officials or centre management.
Committee members said they were shocked by the physical impact of the centres, with high fences, double gates, razor and barbed wire, and the personal stories of detainees.
They noted a consistent pattern of complaints, including unsatisfactory medical treatment and limited educational facilities for children. \”Australia’s detention policy is a harsh policy, ruthlessly implemented,\” Labor MP Roger Price said. \”It brings no credit to Australia.\”
The committee had unanimously recommended that illegal immigrants who have security clearance should spend no longer than 14 weeks in detention.
The 163-page report recommends further time limits on cases coming before the already stretched Refugee Review Tribunal.
If a detainee has not been processed in the set time, the committee has further called for consideration of a sponsorship scheme to free detainees.
There is currently no time limit on detention periods, which can stretch into years for some detainees. However, about 80 per cent of the detainees receive their first answer from the department within 15 weeks.
But Mr Ruddock says the committee members have not in their time in public life, had sufficient life experience.
\”When you’re dealing with travel which takes you to Geneva or to developed countries, you don’t necessarily get to see detention centres or refugee camps,\” he said.
Mr Ruddock says the committee is naive, lacks life experience and has responded to emotional considerations.
Mr Ruddock says he will consider the recommendations but says those that challenge mandatory detention are not acceptable.