Saturday, 16 October 2010

Asylum seekers to be released from detention

Mary Crock, a Professor of Public Law at the University of Sydney, has written extensively about the problems associated with detaining asylum seekers and has lobbied the Government to change its policy.
She says this is a turning point for asylum seekers in Australia and a change that is long overdue.
"Detention is very harmful to the mental health and other aspects of the health of the asylum seekers," she said.
"It's also a very inefficient way to deal with the problem. People are being detained in very remote locations; it costs a literal fortune to get the decision-makers out to the asylum seekers."
She says she has been struck by how unaware Australia is of what other countries are doing.

"We are really by ourselves when it comes to keeping asylum seekers in detention for the length of their processing time," she said.
"Every other country around the world has mechanisms for allowing people out if they don't pose any threat to the community.
"The central question should be: do these people pose a flight risk? Do they pose a risk of any other sort to the community? If not, why are we spending a literal fortune locking them up in remote locations? It doesn't help anybody."
She says it is not difficult to determine who poses a threat before asylum claims have been processed.
"Most asylum seekers, most people who come here and claim refugee status in Australia come here by plane and they live quite happily in the community," she said.
"They don't abscond, on the whole. So there's no reason why boat people should be in any different category."
Professor Crock would like to see this move as the beginning of a major policy change away from detention altogether.
"There's no practical reason why we should be doing this," she said.
"It seems to have been really done more as a sop to the domestic population than to any question of efficiency and effectiveness.
"What we need to see happen is we need to see people being processed in a fair and efficient way so as to see what their status is under international law, see whether they really do have claims upon our good nature. We can't do that effectively if people are in remote locations."

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