From St Vincent de Paul Society’s publication The Record, Taskforce EO Misha Coleman calls for an independent guardian of children in detention. Read the article: 196484_The_Record_Spring_2014_-_Embracing_diversity
Statement issued by Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), is a coalition of 21 NGOs in Cambodia today:
CHRAC is urgently calling for the Australian Government to release much needed information regarding this deal that has allegedly been struck between the two governments, including:
- The number of refugees that will be resettled from Nauru, Papua New Guinea and other offshore detention centers?
- What will the selection process of the refugees be? How will the government ensure these refugees are making the decision to resettle in Cambodia in a truly voluntary manner?
- How much money has been promised to the Cambodian government in return for the resettlement of these refugees? What mechanisms are in place to ensure that the money will not be lost through corruption and bribery?
- What will happen to the refugees once they arrive in Cambodia? Will they simply be moving from one offshore detention center to another form of detention?
- How will the Australian Government ensure that the Cambodian Government meets its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the other international human rights instruments that the Cambodian government has willingly ratified but has shown a lack of willingness to implement?
Bishop Philip Huggins, (Chair, Anglican Church of Australia General Synod Refugee and Migrant Working Group) compiled this report on human trafficking for the World Council of Churches and Christian Conference of Asia – International Ecumenical Consultation, Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 4 – 7, 2014 .
Migration and Human Trafficking: Modern Slavery? Download here.
The Australian government appears to have struck a deal with Cambodia to house 100 refugees in exchange for a massive increase in foreign aid. But Cambodia is far from a safe place to settle.
On January 3 this year, men from Cambodia’s security forces opened fire on striking garment workers in the nation’s capital of Phnom Penh, killing at least five unarmed people and injuring dozens of others. The workers were protesting for an increase in the country’s minimum wage for factory workers, who toil in sweatshop conditions, from US$80 to US$160 — per month.
Read the full article from John Menadue’s website.
On a remote, sunny island, some 52 people have been detained for up to nearly five years without trial on secret evidence, with no prospect of release. A series of suicide attempts since 2012 speaks to their profound suffering. One man attempted to hang himself with a bedsheet. Another tried to electrocute himself. Another drank bleach. Another cut himself and used his blood to leave a message on a wall. All remain in detention; the government dismisses them as attention-seekers. Read the full story by By Ben Saul in the New York Times.
Former First Assistant Secretary of the Refugee, Humanitarian and International Division of the Immigration Department Arja Keski-Nummi comments on the idea of Cambodia as a so-called offshore processing centre. ‘If we were truly serious about regional security and building a sustainable and dynamic regional economy and societies then we would not be offshoring our responsibilities for a small proportion of the world’s asylum seekers.’
Read Arja Keski-Nummi’s full blog post from John Menadue’s website.
Baptcare has forwarded the following statement (accompanied by a letter from our Chief Executive) to a range of candidates from the major parties, in selected Victorian and Tasmanian electorates.
Our Chief Executive has also emailed this Statement to all our staff across 33 locations in Melbourne, regional Victoria, Hobart and Launceston; with a request that if they agree with Baptcare’s perspective on this issue then they disseminate it further and also consider the action of contacting their local candidates.
This declaration draws upon principles and values of welcome shared across a multitude of religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. Known as an Affirmation of Welcome, it is the first to involve UNHCR and a spectrum of faith-based organisations.
Citizenship, while important, should not trump human rights in Australia’s treatment of refugees
From the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne website,
Story by Mark Brolly
Citizenship, while important, should not trump human rights in Australia’s treatment of refugees, Archbishop Philip Freier has declared.
Dr Freier said there was “a certain exceptionalism” about Australian attitudes that because Australia had no land borders, it should not be exposed to the realities of people movements and turmoil that existed in other parts of the world.
He said there was “really a different ethical base” underneath recent remarks by the Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr, that most of the people arriving on boats in recent times were not refugees but economic migrants, and that a real problem lay with the definitions applied by Australian tribunals when assessing arrivals.
“I can understand that the spike in numbers is very difficult for the Government to manage and I think the policies the Government puts in place quickly become exhausted and can’t cope with any extra capacity,” Dr Freier said during a panel discussion on asylum seekers on ABC Radio’s Sunday Nights program, hosted by John Cleary, on 30 June.
The Archbishop referred to a recent Breakfast Conversation he hosted on the issue in Federation Square, saying that the people there “would have had a view very different to the one that Bob Carr has espoused”.
“People were saying in that group that there is a strong moral imperative, and a strong desire that they have, to re-frame the national discourse and to have a very different way of speaking about people who are asylum seekers, a different way of speaking about people who come to Australia on boats and an entirely different way of welcoming them…,” Dr Freier said.
“There’s a kind of an Australian exceptionalism that not having a land border, we don’t expect that we’re going to be exposed to the kind of realities of the people movements… that places like Lebanon was experiencing, Syria was experiencing with a lot of Iraqi Christian refugees until they’ve been plunged back into chaos in their civil war and many other places and nations near the Mediterranean simply because of their proximity to North Africa are getting lots of people arriving on boats with far greater frequency than we are. So we’ve got a certain exceptionalism in Australia that we should be different and not exposed to the turmoil that exists in the world. The world is in turmoil.
“… It’s a very disturbing situation when we decide to deprive people of liberty, to treat them with less compassion than we treat other people. And while citizenship is an important notion, it’s not a notion that trumps human rights.”
Archbishop Freier, asked whether the Refugees Convention was outdated, said it had emerged from the awful situations leading up to and during World War II when Jewish refugees trying the escape the Holocaust were stateless and not being accepted in any ports, “and I think the international community saw the primary inhumanity in that situation and so the Refugees Convention was really brought into being to face a situation which is still an enduring reality”.
“It would be an appalling situation for people simply to be stateless and to have to make the best they could endure in life in some place, having no place where they had any hope or any place to settle,” he said. “So I think any argument… that the Refugees Convention is out-of-date or inappropriate, is quite wrong. It actually touches on a profound moral discovery around the circumstances of the Holocaust and the period, events before, during and after the Second World War that has been properly attended to by the international community. (The Convention) is one we should hold strongly to and not seek to minimise or attenuate its effect.”