Australia has an obligation to protect asylum seekers

Australia has an obligation to protect asylum seekers

As the Australian Government prepares to introduce amendments to migration legislation, the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) has again called for Australia to take seriously its obligations to protect refugee and asylum seekers under international law.

“Australia not only has legal obligations to asylum seekers, it also has moral obligations, ” said the Rev. Tara Curlewis, NCCA General Secretary. “We are a prosperous nation and the Government is introducing legislation that will place a burden upon poorer nations in the region.”

She said, “NCCA member churches continue to affirm the need for the expeditious processing of refugees and asylum seekers entering Australian territory. The churches through their agencies currently support the community detention program and will continue to work with Government to provide appropriate housing and care.”

Ms Curlewis said, “The Australian Government’s approach to asylum seekers and refugees is appalling, particularly all the energy that is being expended to amend legislation in order to transfer our obligations to another smaller less prosperous nation in the region.”

Due to the uncertainty of amendments to legislation, asylum seekers continue to be held in mandatory detention where they wait in a state of limbo for their applications to be considered.

Ms Curlewis said, “Using vulnerable and traumatised people as a political ping pong ball is inhumane and reduces the value of Australia as a signatory to the Refugee Convention.”

The amended legislation was scheduled to be introduced to the Parliament on Thursday, October 13.

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