Tuesday, July 22, 2008

End mandatory detention

You may not realise this but there are still hundreds of people in immigration detention across Australia. Although conditions have improved somewhat from the nadir of a few years ago, many of the policies of the Howard era are still in force.

Finally, however, the Government is ready to listen and has launched a genuine Inquiry into detention. This is a great chance to call for a more humane system and thus give the Government a strong mandate for change. Chances like this don't come very often - to end a regrettable chapter of Australian history that caused unimaginable suffering to some of the world's most desperate and downtrodden.

It seems that this Inquiry signals that the Government genuinely wants to put an end to Australia's inhumane detention regime, and for the first time they are asking for our views. If ever you have despaired at the treatment of asylum seekers, put your name to GetUp's petition submission and help end this ongoing national shame. The inquiry closes at the end of this week so be quick.
Adapted from a recent campaign email from GetUp. GetUp's position on detention is as follows:

GetUp recognises that there has been a number of positive changes in detention policy in recent years, but we believe that there is still a long way to go before the policy will be acceptable to the community.

GetUp, along with a number of other refugee advocacy organisations, believes that Immigration detention should meet the following principles (revised 22 July 2008):
  1. Immigration detention should not be mandatory. It should be used as a measure of last resort for all people, not just children. It should be used only for legitimate necessary purposes: for health, character, identity and security checks, or where there is a proven ongoing security need.
  2. Immigration detention should have clear time limits, with public and legal scrutiny and detained people must have the ability to challenge that detention.
  3. Immigration detention should have all the ordinary standards expected by the rule of law, with a framework governed by legal rules, not by discretion.
  4. Immigration detention should be conducted with every step taken to ensure that a person in detention can access all necessary legal and welfare services and to ensure that every detainee can properly realise their right to legal advice.