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Commission says asylum seekers forgotten in election campaign

Brisbane's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has lamented the lack of attention given during the Federal election campaign to asylum seekers still locked up in Immigration Detention Centres around Australia and on Nauru.

The Commission issued a statement calling for Christians and people of goodwill to ask their local candidates what they will do to put an end to the practice of prolonged, indefinite detention of asylum seekers.

Executive Officer Peter Arndt said Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby had asked the Commission to encourage action to end prolonged detention of asylum seekers.

"Last election, asylum seekers were the centre of attention, but, this time around, they are out of sight and out of mind," Mr Arndt said. "There are still over 80 children in detention and some adults have been locked up for years," he said.

Mr Arndt said that the possibility that some asylum seekers being detained for life is particularly worrying.

"Some asylum seekers have failed in their bid for recognition as refugees, but no country will accept them and they could remain in detention for the rest of their lives," he said. "The physical and psychological damage that prolonged detention could do to asylum seekers should be obvious to everyone," he said.

"To keep people in detention for long periods and, perhaps, forever, is an appalling abuse of human rights," he said.

"Australia's Bishops spoke out about indefinite detention of asylum seekers and other matters in May and they said they did so because the Gospel compels them to defend human rights," he said. "As Pope John XXIII made clear in his landmark encyclical Pacem in Terris, the defence and promotion of human rights is essential to the promotion of peace and justice in our world," he said.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind (Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Archdiocese of Brisbane 1/10/04)

Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Archdiocese of Brisbane
Catholic Bishops call for urgent response to the needs of asylum seekers and refugees (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 14/5/04)

5 Oct 2004