Compassion for asylum seekers overdue: Vinnies

25/08/2011

The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia insists the Government listen to public sentiment and scrap its Malaysian and Manus Island deals before more refugees suffer needlessly in mandatory detention.

Members of the Society eagerly await a decision by the High Court of Australia on the lawfulness of the Malaysian deal. The High Court considered the matter on Monday and Tuesday 22 and 23 August and has reserved its decision until Wednesday 31 August.

St Vincent de Paul Society Chief Executive Dr John Falzon says the Government can choose to act sooner to end the cycle of punishing asylum seekers.

“It is never too late for Australia to rethink its position on human rights,” Dr Falzon said.

“It could be done today. The St Vincent de Paul Society is calling on both the Government and Opposition to abandon their policies of offshore processing and mandatory detention.

“We welcome those refugees living in Malaysia, some 4,000 people who were guaranteed settlement under this deal, but deplore the Government’s plan to conduct a people swap.”

Dr Falzon said people fleeing persecution have a legitimate right to seek asylum in our country and that the continued mandatory detention of adults - and particularly of children - is of deep concern to Society members.

St Vincent de Paul Society National President Anthony Thornton said far from being a ‘backflip’, the scrapping of the Malaysian deal would be an act of compassion by the Government.

“It would give us all hope - hope that Australia’s international reputation as a fair and just society can be reinstated and hope for families and unaccompanied minors who make the journey to this country, often from war-torn and strife-riddled homelands, seeking a place of safety,” Mr Thornton said.
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