Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Asylum seekers in Australia - children out of detention

In a good first step, the Australian govt has announced changes to the detention regime that will see children released with their carers. Much of the overall approach remains punitive in nature but the ongoing violation of the rights of children was untenable for a western democracy.

Newspapers across the land, including the SMH, has reported the changes positively. However, Amnesty and others have criticised the failure to grasp the nettle and do away with mandatory detention. The AI spokesperson lamented, "As AI has highlighted time and again, Australia is the only country to mandatorily (sic) detain asylum seekers in this way...by reaffirming its commitment to the policy, the government is failing to acknowledge that this system is not working."

As I have proffered previously, Australia must model best practice in this area, ensuring the provisions of international legal instruments and human rights conventions are followed to the letter. This can be a win/win for asylum seekers, the respective processing authorities, and the countries in the firing line. Opening a regional dialogue and developing a well-resourced multilateral approach, empowering all parties with a stake in a solution to this growing human crisis, would be a good start.

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