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Jesuit advocate says there's no good reason for child detention

Human rights lawyer Fr Frank Brennan has told a Sydney rally that there is no reason for keeping asylum seekers in detention - especially children - other than bureaucratic convenience and the government's desire for popularity.

He said there might be good reason to detain people who arrived on our shores without documentation, but only for the briefest of times while it was determined they were not a health or security risk.

"But once we have decided those things," he asked, "why should we keep asylum seekers in detention? Why should we keep children behind razor wire? Alas there is no answer other than bureaucratic convenience and the government's desire for popularity."

Fr Brennan was one of a number of church leaders and politicians to denounce the Federal Government's policy of holding children in detention, at an Amnesty International and Chilout (Children out of Detention) rally yesterday at Sydney Town Hall.

The significance of yesterday was that the Government had failed to free all children from immigration detention by 10 June as recommended by its own human rights agency. Representing 162 children still in detention were 162 children ringing bells and 162 pairs of shoes.

Other speakers included Andrew Denton, Dr Louise Newman, Director of the New South Wales Institute of Psychiatry, ALP MP Tanya Plibersek, Liberal MP Peter King, former Liberal Party President John Valder, and Australian Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett.

Meanwhile the Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre announced yesterday that Fr Brennan would be leaving the Centre after 15 years, to take up a fellowship at Boston College, Massachusetts, in September.

Uniya Director Sr Patty Fawkner said that his project during the academic year will go be the lengthy descriptive title: 'Articulating the Catholic Church's Voice of Public Reason Across Religious and Cultural Divides by providing guidance to the public intellectual in a pluralist democracy who wants to translate the Church Tradition to the Modern World.'

Before he travels to the USA, Fr Brennan will make two visits to Indonesia where he will study the language and monitor the July Presidential elections.

Church leaders, politicians denounce Government for children in detention policy (Insights 10/6/04)
Uniya announces Fr Frank Brennan's departure (Uniya 10/6/04)

Let the children walk in these shoes, Frank Brennan SJ AO, Sydney Town Hall Rally (Uniya 10/6/04)
Uniting Church joins children in detention protest (Insights 10/6/04)
Deadline up but children still not free (The Australian 10/6/04)
City bells to toll for detained children (The Age 10/6/04)
What's new at Uniya (Uniya 10/6/04)
Asylum seeker family's future still in limbo (CathNews 4/6/04)
Bakhtiaris stay locked up but may soon live with mum (Sydney Morning Herald/AAP 3/6/04)
Bakhtiari children to remain in home detention (ABC Radio PM 3/6/04)
Asylum seekers refused interim release from detention (ABC Radio The World Today 3/6/04)
Asylum seeker children in limbo (CathNews 14/5/04)
Churches back calls for release of abused detainee children (Insights 13/5/04)
Australia breaches children's human rights (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission 13/5/04)
No more children for Baxter, pleads SA (ABC West Coast SA 13/5/04)
Vanstone critical of Human Rights Commission report (ABC Radio PM 13/5/04)
HREOC denounces Govt policy of placing children in detention centres (ABC Radio AM 6/5/04)
Labor says Govt should rethink detention centre policy (ABC Radio AM 6/5/04)
Ruddock stands by detention of children policy (ABC Radio AM 6/5/04)
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
Children's release from detention "unlawful" (CathNews 30/4/04)

11 Jun 2004