The Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce is calling on the House Selection Committee to list for debate the Bill tabled by Andrew Willkie today– the ASIO Act Amendment (Restoring Merits Review) Bill 2014.
Vice-Chair of the Taskforce, Sister Suzette Clark rsc, said today that “the Bill aims to reintroduce some procedural fairness to those asylum seekers who are being held in indefinite detention. These people have been assessed as refugees but are being held in jail-like conditions in Villawood and Broadmeadows detention centres because ASIO has given them an adverse security assessment. At present, there are 42 men and 2 women who are in this distressing situation, and some of them are facing their 6th year of indefinite detention. It is shocking! ”.
Sister Suzette called on all Members of the House of Representatives to ensure that this Bill is debated: “Our elected representatives must realise that these particular refugees are not only being locked up without a key, but are also not allowed to know on what basis they have been locked up. This is undemocratic and inhumane”.
The Executive Office of the Taskforce, Ms Misha Coleman, said: “It’s been clear through conversations with many members of the House of Representatives and Senate that they were not aware of the full impact of the recent Migration Amendment Bill (2013) which they passed through Parliament earlier this year. “
Ms Coleman said that “the Bill introduced today by Andrew Wilkie is a really positive step towards ensuring that everyone is equal before the law. It’s also important to point out that this Bill doesn’t change ASIO’s powers in any way. We acknowledge that ASIO assessments are critical in protecting our national security, but like all taxpayer-funded government departments, the process by which they are made, explained and reviewed needs to be consistent.”
Sister Suzette Clark said, “Australian Churches are calling for justice for these 44 people being indefinitely detained. They are human beings and should be treated with dignity and compassion. The passage of Andrew Wilkie’s Bill would be one step in achieving justice.”
More about the Churches Campaign can be found at http://www.australianchurchesrefugeetaskforce.com.au/alaghun/
Drawing from one of the refugees who is indefinitely detained, is overleaf.
Sister Suzette Clark, Vice-Chair Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, 0439 710 218.
Misha Coleman, Executive Officer, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, 0428 399 739.
Download the word doc:Church Taskforce Press Release-ASIO Private Members Bill