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Bishops question system of mandatory detention

A number of Catholic Church agencies have joined with other Church, civic and political leaders in calling for an independent inquiry into the management of Australia's detention centres.

The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) and the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC) issued a statement on Friday questioning why a system of mandatory detention which is clearly not working continues to be official policy.

"Many Australians have now seen the conditions at Woomera detention centre and have heard from former staff," said Bishop Joseph Grech, Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Migrants and Refugees. "They have some knowledge of the level of stress for the staff and the trauma among the detainees in detention centres."

Meanwhile Australian Catholic Social Justice Council Chairman, Bishop Christopher Saunders, said: "It is clear that some basic human rights have been denied."

Both Bishops urged the Australian Government to evaluate the current practices with asylum seekers, noting that in fact, the whole system of processing asylum seekers needs to change.

"This could be the time to assess honestly the damage detention centres are causing individuals and families, and the practice of returning asylum seekers to their country of origin when that country may only offer these human beings further detention or torture or even death," said Bishop Saunders.

Australian Catholic Social Justice Council

Bishop urges action on detention centres (22/5/03)
Jesuit centre calls for independent inquiry into management of detention centres
Woomera management investigated (The Age)
Immigration Minister | Border Protection
ABC Four Corners: About Woomera

26 May 2003