On days like today, I wonder where on earth are we heading?
By a 4-3 majority, the High Court ruled that unsuccessful asylum seekers who could not be removed to another country, despite their wish to leave Australia, could continue to be held in immigration detention indefinitely.
“He’s been of no cost to the Australian taxpayers, he’s been fully supported by people in the Australian community and we can see no reason why he shouldn’t be a fully fledged member of the Australian community and we’d hope the Australian government would support that,” he said.
Note that the term “failed asylum seekers” does not equate to “queue jumper” (thankfully it seems the debate has moved beyond this). What it means is that, by the relatively narrow definition of refugee, the asylum seeker was unsuccessful in gaining a protection visa. The person involved might have perfectly legitimate reasons for fleeing in fear of their life (I don’t know the details of these two cases, so that is a general statement).
The Australian Democrats’ Andrew Bartlett sums it up well:
… No Australian would agree that keeping a person detained forever for administrative reasons is a humane outcome. If someone cannot be deported, we must find a solution to the problem that’s better than locking them up and throwing away the key.”
“Our obligations to stateless people are made quite clear by the United Nations, which holds that Australia should ‘facilitate the assimilation and naturalisation of stateless persons’.
“It’s time for Australia to live up to all our human rights obligations under international conventions.”
What I find amazing is that both men have agreed to leave the country, but no-one will have them. So two people that could be productive within the community are then locked up at tax payer expense, in conditions that by many reports can be worse than our jails.
For example –
Australian Democrats: Minister Wont Deny Existence Of Punishment Compound.
“What is the Government afraid of us finding out? The Minister’s comments indicate there is no transparency or accountability in the treatment of those held at Baxter,” Senator Stott Despoja said.
“The Democrats understand the new behaviour regime includes 20 hours of isolation per day and lasts up to 6 weeks.
… “In addition, the Minister must immediately institute, at a minimum, the same safeguards and review processes for detained asylum seekers to which convicted criminals are entitled.”
It’s a sad day when highest court in a country like Australia finds that it is ok to lock someone up indefinitely because they have no-where else to go.