Church groups step up fight against detention centres

The international community should cooperate in the fight against detention, Cardinal Renato Martino said yesterday at the Rome launch of a global interfaith coalition against refugees' detention.

"It is particularly worrying that detention is being used, in violation of international human rights law, as an instrument to deter the arrival of refugees and to persuade them to leave," the Cardinal said.

Adnkronos International reports that Cardinal Martino, chairman of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, made the comments as prominent Catholic, Muslim and Jewish leaders met to launch the new interfaith coalition with the support of over 100 human rights organisations in 42 countries, including the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).

"The Coalition will have two main aims," international director of the JRS Fr Lluis Magrina said, "to raise awareness of migrants' detention policies in public opinion, enabling it to exert pressure on governments, and to discourage the use of detention, seeking possible alternatives."

Magrina told Adnkronos International that one of the newly-formed coalition's main tasks will be "to act as a pressure group, not only within the international organisations such as the UN and the EU but on national governments as well."

"The best way to conduct our global campaign will be acting through local organisations which share fundamental principles and aims in different areas of the world," he said.

In his speech, Cardinal Martino underlined the increasing action of the Catholic Church in support of human rights and stressed the importance of the concept of "human being" in the Catholic church's point of view about migrants' detention practices.

"As human dignity is innate in every human being, Catholics should cooperate with other faiths within the common 'human famliy' to prevent everyone from loosing his dignity," he said.

"The various members of the international community should cooperate in the fight against detention of migrants on the basis of the 'globalisation of solidarity' enunciated by Pope John Paul II," Martino added.

Martino told reporters that "non-governmental organisations should first of all exert their pressure on the UN, which is the best forum in which to persuade governments to renounce the detention of immigrants."

"It would certainly help if the UN would make a clear statement against the countries implementing such practices - like for instance Italy - which are an insult to human rights" he concluded.

Vatican: Global interfaith campaign against migrants' detention (Adnkronos International, 15/6/2006)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Jesuit Refugee Service
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

Jesuit Refugee Service says Pacific Solution breaches Convention (CathNews 18/4/06)
World Day for Migrants & Refugees: Pope stresses "integration" (CathNews 18/1/05)
Pope urges solidarity in a globalised world (CathNews 31/8/05)

16 Jun 2006