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Catholic group labels Govt rejection of UN report 'arrogant'

The Catholic lobby group PolMin yesterday called the Federal Government arrogant and hypocritical after it rejected the report of the UN Human Rights Commissioner on its treatment of Australia's detained asylum seekers.

Justice Bhagwati, the personal envoy of UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson, said in an initial report that the Australian government has allowed a great human tragedy to develop, as individuals' hope gives way to despair. But a joint ministerial statement from the Australian Government dismissed the initial report as emotive, subjective and fundamentally flawed.

PolMin (the Australian Political Ministry Network) said: "On the one hand the Government strongly argues that the current asylum seeker policy is not open for discussion, whilst on the other hand it strongly argues that other policy issues such as the sale of Telstra there is a need for open and frank policy discussion."

"Catholic social teaching starting from Pope Leo XIII in the 1880s holds that it is the duty of government to listen to the community so that public policy fully reflects common good.

"The outright rejection of the report clearly suggests the Government has grown arrogant in relation to asylum seeker policy, it does not want to listen and discuss the policy. This means the current policy is not upholding and protecting the common good.

PolMin called on the Government to listen and openly and frankly discuss Australia's current asylum seeker policy so that the policy "upholds and protect the common good".

Government Rejects the Report of the UN Human Rights Commissioner's Envoy into Human Rights and Immigration Detention: Joint Media Release with Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer The Attorney-General, Daryl Williams
UN report on detention centres (ABC Radio The World Today)


2 Aug 2002