Director of Edmund Rice calls Gov't morality 'questionable'

The underlying morality of the Howard Government ought now to be regarded as questionable and a full judicial inquiry into the Department of Immigration is now essential, according to the executive director of the Edmund Rice Centre.

Edmund Rice's Phil Glendenning yesterday supported the call by the Australian Democrats' call for a full judicial inquiry into the Department of Immigration's handling of alleged wrongful detention and mishandling of asylum seekers' claims since Tampa.

Mr Glendenning co-authored last September's landmark report, Deported to Danger, which catalogued a series of alleged breaches of Australia's legal obligations to refugees, including sending asylum seekers to places known to be unsafe and encouraging asylum seekers to obtain false papers by bribery and other illegal means.

"The Federal Government's culture of denying the obvious must stop," Mr Glendenning told Online Catholics yesterday. "The Department of Immigration has shown itself unable to meet its own mandate. There should be a full judicial inquiry or preferably, an independent royal commission."

Mr Glendenning said that if public policy did not take account of morality, there would be a failure to deal with the needs of the most vulnerable. This principle is enshined in secular law with the principle of 'non refoulement', which means that refugees have the right not to be returned to thie country where they have a well founded fear of persecution on the grounds of race, nationality, membership of a particular group or political opinion. Non refoulement was established as a right of refugees by the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, to which Australia is a signatory.

Mr Glendenning said, "Australia is in breach of its international obligations of non refoulement. Expert after expert has reported on Australia's appalling record of mandatory detention and we are in breach of a series of international conventions which are there to protect children and minors.

"No other comparable country in the world treats these international obligations as carelessly as Australia does. Why? The underlying morality of Australia's public policy on immigration must now be questioned."

Online Catholics (15/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
1951 Refuge Convention
1967 Protocol
Edmund Rice Centre | Deported to Danger
Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office

Catholic advocate urges better immigration policy scrutiny (CathNews 10/5/05)
Detention stuff-ups no surprise to Edmund Rice researchers (CathNews 3/5/05)
Edmund Rice Centre claims at least 35 refugees sent back to danger (CathNews 29/9/04)

15 Jun 2005