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Commission highlights figures on asylum seekers 'living peacefully' in community

New statistics obtained from the Department of Immigration show that Asylum seekers have been peacefully living in the community for years, according Melbourne's Catholic Commission for Justice Development and Peace.

It claims the statistics raise serious questions about the effect of mandatory detention on children and other vulnerable people.

"The statistics show that there are two times as many people living in the community seeking asylum, than those being held in detention centres," said Commission executive officer Marc Purcell.

"These new figures raise serious doubts about the policy of detaining people in detention centres for months and years on end," he said. "If the Government can allow thousands of people to live peacefully in the community while their claims are assessed, then It very cruel to keep detaining children and families in places like Woomera."

Meanwhile the Commission issued a second statement criticisting allegedly misleading Department of Immigration claims that many asylum seekers are absconding.

"These numbers paint a false picture and will mislead and raise unnecessary fears with the public," said Mr Purcell. "Apparent errors include the counting of thousands of people legitimately in the community whose claims are at various stages of appeal under the law in Australia. The Department's definition of absconding is questionable."

Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace (Melbourne)/second statement

Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace

17 Dec 2002