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Catholics lobby blames bad policy for 'eternal detention' decision

Friday's High Court decision to enforce indefinite detention on stateless "failed" asylum seekers further highlights the injustice of the Federal Government's current migration policy, according to John Sweeney of the Australian Political Ministry Network (PolMin).

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.

Dr Sweeney said that Abbas Mohammad Al Khafaji has been returned to Baxter Detention Centre indefinitely not because he does not fear for his life but merely because he visited Syria during his refuge-seeking odyssey.

In a statement released yesterday, PolMin set out its conviction, based on Catholic social teaching, that indefinite detention represents a violation of basic human rights.

Dr Sweeney argued that asylum seekers such as Mr Al Khafaji have fled their country of origin because of real and substantiated fears for their safety.

He said Australia is the only western country that allows indefinite detention.

"The Federal Government's present detention policy is in breach of Article 9 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights," he said.

PolMin has repeatedly argued that asylum seekers' cases should be resolved within 6 months as was envisaged in the original legislation.

"The Federal Government's refusal to grant refugee status to Abbas Mohammad Al Khafaji and other asylum seekers like him stems from a unilateral and arbitrary distinction designed to discourage asylum seekers by punishing innocent and traumatised people. Indefinite detention is not a resolution for anyone."

An unjust decision stems from a bad policy (Australian Political Ministry Network Ltd 9/8/04)

Australian Political Ministry Network Ltd (PolMin)
Adelaide Centacare disappointed by indefinite asylum seeker detention decision (CathNews 9/8/04)
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)

10 Aug 2004