Concern for asylum seekers

April 7, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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The Union for Progressive Judaism has expressed concern that key focus of the enquiry into Immigration Detention Facilities is on the provision of protection to the personnel running detention centres rather than addressing the key issues required in a policy relating to the asylum seekers and refugees themselves.

UPJ-logo-clearThey have offered a submission for consideration in the enquiry.

 

Their submission states:

“We are concerned that this issue takes precedence in a situation where innocent people seeking refuge from war, persecution and discrimination are treated in the same manner that criminals are – with the emphasis on “good order” rather than on being treated with compassion while their application for asylum is considered.

The current system of detention without limit; the detention of children; and the draconian imposition of order rather than processing of applications is inhumane and ineffective.

 

We are also concerned that such measures are in contravention of Australia’s international obligations and contrary to Australia’s ethos of compassion for the needy and assistance to those in dire straits.

 

It is our belief that to place children in detention and to leave them there for extended periods without the physical, psychological and emotional protection that should be available to all children is abhorrent and should be ended immediately.

 

Based on these comments, which we believe are shared by many Australians, we submit that the following matters should be considered by the committee as part of this enquiry:

 

  • Regardless of the means of entering Australian territory, all asylum seekers should be treated equally regardless of arriving by boat or overstaying a visa.
  • All applications for asylum in Australia should be conducted within Australian territory, and not sub-contracted to other nations.
  • The immense resources spent on the current punitive infrastructure and security system should instead be used to make a quick and efficient analysis of each application.
  • For the minority of applicants whose character or circumstances raise questions of national security – they should be placed in a secure facility while their application is investigated as a matter of urgency.  If they are found to not meet the character requirements &/or the refugee requirements they should be returned to their source country quickly and humanely, and not to circumstances where they face torture or death.
  • For all other applicants, including children, they should have an initial assessment made and then be released into the community and support provided while their application is processed. This assessment should be carried out within clearly defined time limits.
  • The asylum seekers should be provided with access to English tuition and also with information about Australia’s system of democracy and its values. They should also be provided with permission to work, as well as being given access to health and welfare services.
  • Government funds should be taken from the massive “Good order” detention facility infrastructure and re-allocated to the provision of support to these, the majority of the asylum seekers.
  • Funds should also be allocated to NGOs and community groups to provide support, assistance and compassion while the individuals and families await the outcome of their application.
  • The application process should include an open and timely system of review and appeal.
  • If, at the end of this process, the applicant is found not to be a genuine refugee or asylum seeker – and not facing the genuine possibility of torture, imprisonment or death if they return to the source country – then they should be returned humanely and having had a positive experience of Australia and her commitment to judicial fairness and transparency.

 

It is our hope that this Senate enquiry will not restrict itself to the narrow issue of “Good Order” but rather will address the issue of dealing with asylum seekers in a manner that reflects Australia’s role as a “Good citizen” of the world.”

The Union for Progressive Judaism represents congregations and affiliated organisations across Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

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