Australia's government abandoned a refugee-swap deal with Malaysia on Thursday and said it would now process asylum seekers on Australian soil, in a major policy back flip that heads off an embarrassing defeat in parliament.
Source: Refugee Action Coalition Sydney
“The Refugee Action Coalition welcomes the fact the government has finally faced facts with its announcement that the government will process asylum seekers in Australia. But rather than leaving them on the table, the amendments should have been completely withdrawn. The Malaysia Agreement has already been a distraction for too long,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition
“We are also disappointed that the government has not turned its attention to the shocking conditions in detention. [Immigration] Minister Bowen’s announcement that it will consider bridging visas to manage future overcrowding in detention centres falls a long way short of what’s needed.
“There is nothing in the announcement that gives any relief to the thousands of people languishing in detention. The government talks about ‘managing the detention system’ but it is playing with people’s lives.
“Chris Bowen has admitted he has the power to release asylum seekers on bridging visas yet seems oblivious to crisis of self harm and attempted suicide that his detention system is causing.
“There are 600 stateless people, 1,000 waiting for security clearances, and hundreds of Iranian asylum seekers that cannot be sent anywhere, that could be released immediately.
“The arbitrary and bureaucratic delays in refugee processing are inflicting increasing misery on asylum seekers languishing in detention. Innocent people are literally being driven crazy by the uncertainty.
“Federal Magistrate Court appeals are now being scheduled for February and March next year, condemning asylum seekers to many more months of detention. The fact that so many negative decisions are being overturned at every level of appeal shows that off-shore processing is fundamentally flawed.
“Like third country processing, offshore processing on Christmas Island and mandatory detention are relics of the anti-refugee policies of the Howard era. It is time those policies were killed off too,” said Rintoul.
Saturday, 15 October 2011