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Church demands end to Pacific Solution

The Federal Government has subjected asylum seekers to intimidation and incited xenophobic fears in the community, according to a report by Melbourne's Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace.

The report also accused the government of creating the Tampa crisis in August and treating Pacific nations "as if they were client states subject to our bidding".

Based on submissions from non-government bodies, the report, called the Australian Human Rights Register, urges the community to pressure the government to abandon the so-called Pacific solution and develop a new policy on processing claims for refugee status.

It accuses both sides of politics of encouraging racism for electoral gain.

To appear as strong leaders, it said, both used the argument that Australia could not be seen as a "soft touch" for asylum seekers.

The report contrasts the government's approach with Australia's response to flows of Indochinese refugees in the 1970s and 1980s that, it said, were handled in a far more humane and calm manner.

"Instead of incarcerating refugees in desert prisons, we assisted with settlement in the community," it said.

Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace (Melbourne)