13 February 2015
The report of the Australian Human Rights Commission's National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention provides compelling evidence of the need for Australia to cease the detention of children once and for all. Drawing on interviews in detention facilities with more than 1000 children and their parents, the report offers a deeply disturbing record of the harm inflicted on so many children by successive governments. The Government, Opposition and all members of the Australian Parliament must take immediate action to ensure that all children are released from Australian-funded detention centres, in Australia and Nauru, and to ensure that these policies are never repeated.
The indefinite mass detention of children is a national disgrace for which both of Australia's major political parties bear responsibility. Under the Rudd and Gillard Governments, record numbers of children were detained, reaching a peak of 1,992 in July 2013. Under the Abbott Government, hundreds of children have experienced prolonged detention, with the average time spent in detention rising from three months in August 2013 to more than 14 months in January 2015. In doing this, governments have ignored numerous reports, including from the Commission's previous national inquiry in 2004, which have outlined detention's shocking impacts on the mental health of children.
There are many laws across the state (New South Wales) and the country that are subject to the scrutiny of the legal profession. Key legal professionals give their views on the laws that need to change - and why
edited By Klara Major and Jane Southward, Law Society Journal, February 2015 pp.24-35.
The following extract is reproduced with the permission of the Law Society Journal.
The many changes made to this legislation over the years since the 1990s, culminating in the recent Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment Act 2014, have produced a situation where the Migration Act 1958 and the policies behind it are among the most regressive and unfair in Australian history.
They rank in infamy with the Stolen Generation and the historical ill-treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the White Australia Policy. Indeed they reflect aspects of the White Australia policy.
In December 2014, Children's Rights International (CRI) board member Professor Garry Warne AM travelled to Hanoi with Dr Anne Smith, Director of the Victorian Forensic Paediatric Medical Service (VFPMS) and her VFPMS colleague, Dr Andrea Smith. They were welcomed by the Director of the National Hospital of Pediatrics, Professor Le Thanh Hai and the 15-member child protection committee, which is chaired by Vice-Director, Dr Le Minh Huong and coordinated by Dr Do Minh Loan.
In a highly significant move, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health recently issued a circular instructing all hospitals to prepare protocols and procedures to deal more effectively with domestic violence, including violence against children. In addition, the government has passed a law that will see the creation of a new Family and Children’s Court. CRI Chairman, The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC, has played a major role in supporting this development.
Dr Anne Smith and Dr Andrea Smith reviewed problems that have been encountered by the staff of NHP and provided some training on the types of injuries seen as a result of abuse. This project is on-going.
Children's Rights International (CRI) as extremely pleased to receive notification from UNICEF (Viet Nam) of the creation of Viet Nam's first dedicated children's court - the Family and Juvenile Court.
The Law on the Organiszation of the Supreme People's Court was passed by the National Assembly of Viet Nam on 24 November 2014 and subsequently promulgated by the President of Viet Nam. This law establishes the new Family and Juvenile Court.
UNICEF has been working for many years with the Vietnamese authorities to achieve this positive outcome. CRI was pleased to make its contribution and thanks UNICEF for their acknowledgement. We congratulate all involved in achieving this positive development for children and the justice system in Viet Nam.
published in The Guardian, 31 December 2014
by Ben Doherty
A comic produced by Australia aimed at deterring asylum seekers. Photograph: customs.gov.au
'Have the boats stopped reaching Australia?’ is the wrong question to ask. A better one by which to judge the success of its policies is this: are more people safer? Or fewer?'
The boats have not stopped. They have stopped reaching Australia but people are still drowning in seas in our region and across the world.
More than 350,000 asylum seekers boarded boats in 2014, the UN has found, leaving their homeland to seek protection somewhere else. Of those, 54,000 people boarded a boat in south-east Asia – Australia’s “neighbourhood”, in the words of the foreign minister.
At least 540 people died on boat journeys in that neighbourhood – starved, dehydrated or beaten to a death by a crew member and thrown overboard – or drowned when their unseaworthy vessel sank.
published in The Age, Comment, December 14, 2014
by Alastair Nicholson
It is time for all Australians to recognise that stopping the boats is not the answer to the refugee problem.
The issue of refugees is a global one deserving better than the shallow policies developed by successive Australian governments. History will not be any kinder to present Australians than to those of former eras in respect of their racist policies towards Aboriginal and Asian people.
Australian attitudes are curious since most of us, with the exception of the first Australians, are descended from refugees of one sort or another.
Unfortunately, most politicians think that stopping the boats resolves the matter.
The government's latest legislation makes superficial concessions that hide an outrageous scheme that shuts out the rule of law, confers worrying powers on the Immigration Minister, unilaterally amends the Refugee Convention and trashes Australia's former reputation as a good international citizen. Its passage was achieved by Scott Morrison using refugee children as hostages, offering a trivial increase in the number of humanitarian refugees accepted by Australia and making minor changes while leaving most asylum seekers in limbo with temporary protection visas or so-called safe haven visas.
At the end of 2013 an estimated 52 million people around the world were displaced, representing the greatest disruption of peoples since World War II. Overall, 50 percent of these refugees are children.