Catholic bishops welcome High Court ruling on offshore detention

12/11/2010

The Catholic Bishops of Australia have welcomed the High Court judgement that Australian legal procedures must be thoroughly considered and applied by those who make decisions about asylum seekers held in immigration detention.

Spokesperson for the bishops on migrant and refugee matters, Bishop Joe Grech, said that Australians will welcome the decision which affords asylum seekers the same protections of the legal system that are offered to everyone else.

“All Australians will welcome the High Court’s judgement that the rule of law must be followed by decision makers employed by the Australian Government. Most Australians would perhaps be surprised to learn that such a requirement has not been standard practice,” Bishop Grech said.

According to the High Court, the persons employed by the contracting company engaged by the Department of Immigration to assess reviews of asylum seekers claims for refugee status “did not treat the provisions of the Migration Act 1958 (Commonwealth) and the decisions of Australian courts as binding, and, further, failed to observe the requirements of procedural fairness”.

“It is a matter of great concern that people who are tasked with reviews that can be life or death matters are not required to consider the basic rules of Australian law,” Bishop Grech said.

End 'Pacific solutions'

Bishop Grech said that following the judgement, it was now time to consider seriously moving all asylum-seeker processing onshore.

“The bishops of Australia sincerely hope that this is the end of so-called “Pacific solutions” in which those seeking asylum in Australia are moved to remote offshore locations in order to avoid their access to Australian laws,” Bishop Grech said.

“Mere political expediency is no justification for detaining such people in remote areas. Following this important ruling of the High Court, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Australia, I call upon the Australian Government to take immediate steps so that asylum seekers currently held in detention would be afforded the protection and the justice enshrined by the Migration Act.”


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