News Update :

Australia releases asylum seekers from detention

Monday, November 28, 2011

SYDNEY: Australia has rejected recommendations in a United Nations report urging it to repeal its policy of mandatory detention for asylum seekers who arrive illegally.
Canberra’s response to a UN review of rights in Australia released Monday said it is committed to providing protection to refugees in line with its international obligations.

But it rejected some of the 145 recommendations, including that it scraps the detention of boatpeople or limits their detention to six months and indicated that some children would remain locked up.
“The Australian government considers mandatory detention an essential component of strong border control, which manages risks to the community,” the centre-left Labor administration of Prime Minister Julia Gillard said.
It said asylum seekers were only detained if they were classed as unauthorised arrivals, presented unacceptable risks to the community, or repeatedly refused to comply with visa conditions.
“Mandatory detention is based on unauthorised arrival and not on individuals seeking asylum,” it added.
“Indefinite or otherwise arbitrary detention is not acceptable and the length and conditions  of detention are subject to regular review.”
In response to criticism that children were among thousands of asylum seekers housed in detention centres, the government said it had begun moving unaccompanied minors and vulnerable families into community-based accommodation while their immigration status is determined.
But in certain circumstances children may still be held in low-security facilities within the immigration detention network, it said.
“The government aims to relocate half of all children in immigration detention facilities to community-based accommodation by the end of June 2011,” it added.
Australia accepted the bulk of the recommendations of the January review, including that it should continue to combat the entrenched disadvantages of Aborigines.
But Ben Schokman, from the Human Rights Law Centre, said the government’s view on immigration issues was a “blight on an otherwise decent response”.
“It continues to deliberately ignore the growing chorus of international voices and authorities that are saying loud and clear that mandatory and prolonged detention, including of children, is simply not acceptable,” he said.
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