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Adelaide Centacare disappointed by indefinite asylum seeker detention decision

The Adelaide Centacare Catholic welfare agency has expressed disappointment at Friday's High Court decision to uphold the Federal Government's right to detain failed asylum seekers indefinitely.

The court, in a 4-3 finding, ruled that unsuccessful asylum seekers who could not be removed to another country despite their wish to leave Australia could be held in immigration detention indefinitely.

But Centacare Director Dale West told the ABC Radio's PM that the decision can only add to the pressure on the Government to find a better way.

"The Government's continually shown over the last four or five years that it doesn't respond to particular pressure points," he said. "What I'm hopeful of is that the accumulated effect of decisions like [Friday's] and other things that have happened in the last four or five years, including I think a change in community attitudes to the way that we're treating people that have come to Australia by boat, it will be that that eventually makes a difference.

He said the only humane solution to the problem of stateless asylum seekers who do not match the criteria for refugee status is to allow them to stay in Australia.

"It's a nonsense in my personal view to say we need to lock people up, because they have nowhere else to go. If that's the best solution that a government can come up with, then it's clear to me they are stuck in a position that's untenable in the longer term, either for them as a government and also for the people we're actually describing as being part of this particular case, the result of which has come down today.

"To be able to say to someone, 'You need to remain incarcerated here in Australia because we don't know where you're from', and for that to be the best outcome for a government is really simply unacceptable."

High Court upholds indefinite detention for detainees (ABC Radio PM 6/8/04)

Court upholds indefinite detention (The Age 7/8/04)
Stateless detainees get life sentence (The Australian 7/8/04)
Democrats to fight 'eternal jail' power (The Age 9/8/04)
Editorial: The tragic fate of asylum seekers (The Age 9/8/04)
Taxpayer-funded trip for detainees (The Australian 9/8/04)
Centacare director 'devastated' by Govt demands (CathNews 30/6/04)
HREOC backs Adelaide Centacare on asylum-seeker children's suffering (CathNews 7/5/04)
Centacare Adelaide

9 Aug 2004