Edmund Rice condemnation of detention of vulnerable

The Edmund Rice Centre issued a call yesterday for immigration law reform to prevent "a return to the sorts of disgraceful situations highlighted in the cases of Mr T, Vivian Alvarez Solon, Cornelia Rau".

The Director of the Edmund Rice Centre, Phil Glendenning, has welcomed the positive response by the Immigration Minister to the Ombudsman's report on Mr T, an Australian citizen unlawfully detained by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA), but warns that legislative reform is still needed.

"We have seen that this Government has abandoned due process when it suits its political interests. There remains no guarantee that, should we face another 'Tampa', the Government won't once again turn a blind eye to these sorts of abuses", Mr Glendenning said.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman described the case of Mr T as "disturbing" after the mentally ill Australian citizen was detained on three separate occasions by DIMA as a suspected unlawful non-citizen.

"All Australian citizens should be able to live their lives safe in the knowledge that if they are sick they are entitled to medical care not mandatory detention", Mr Glendenning said.

"Similarly they should also be able to live in the understanding that the presumption of innocence precedes the removal of a citizen's liberty.

"Mr T was denied these rights as a citizen. Despite suffering serious mental health issues, DIMA, along with other relevant Federal and State authorities, provided no support once Mr T was released.

"This is a sad indictment on the way Australia deals with not only asylum seekers and refugees, but also the mentally ill. Vulnerable people need to be looked after not locked up," Mr Glendenning said.

"We recognise that DIMA has been forced to reform its processes, and we acknowledge the years of hard work done by community groups, advocates and a number of politicians from all sides of the political spectrum to bring DIMA to recognise the need for change," Mr Glendenning said.

Vulnerable citizens need to be looked after not locked up (Edmund Rice Centre 23/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs | Commonwealth Ombudsman Report into Detained Australian Citizen (Media Release 23/3/06)
Edmund Rice Centre

Edmund Rice advocate defends deported drug offender (CathNews 24/11/05)
Catholic advocate urges better immigration policy scrutiny (CathNews 10/5/05)
Detention stuff-ups no surprise to Edmund Rice researchers (CathNews 3/5/05)

Mentally ill man wrongfully detained in Villawood (ABC Radio AM 23/3/06)
Immigration Minister apologises to man held wrongfully in detention (ABC TV Lateline 23/3/06)
Omudsman details 'serious problems' in immigration detention (ABC TV Lateline 23/3/06)
Catholics to celebrate migrant workers (Ekklesia 20/3/06)
France prodded on assimilation of Muslim immigrants (Catholic World News 16/3/06)
Why I fast and pray for comprehensive immigration reform (The Tidings 17/3/06)

24 Mar 2006