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Letter to Hartsuyker treatment of refugees

From: Mike
Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2014 1:42 PM
Subject: Asylum policy
Dear Mr Hartsuyker,
You will be aware that the UN Committee Against Torture has now published its report on Australia’s treatment of refugees, including children. The report unsurprisingly finds that the government’s treatment of refugees amounts to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” which, as you will know, is forbidden by international law.  The report describes in some detail the harsh conditions in detention centres and the huge uncertainty about the future, which create serious physical and mental pain for asylum seekers. It is simply not good enough for you to continually tell us that government action to “stop the boats” in any way justifies the cruel and inhumane policies that you have adopted to achieve this objective. Nor is it acceptable for you to continue to assert that the cruel punishment –for that is what it is – meted out to asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island are matters for the Nauruan  and PNG governments.  The UN report makes it clear that Australia has effective control over these detention centres and cannot therefore outsource its responsibilities.
When will the government begin to listen to the voices of all the organisations – Church groups, NGOs, the UN, Amnesty International and many other groups – who are telling you loud and clear that the government’s policy in relation to refugees is cruel, inhumane, immoral and unlawful? In recent days, Alastair Nicholson QC, Chairman of Children’s Rights International,  stated on ABC National radio: “ What the Minister is doing unfortunately is the very thing that the UNHCR has pointed out should not happen, and that is to use children as a pawn to achieve a political objective”.  He goes on to say: “ It’s time that we realised that we are in breach of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we’re in breach of international law, and the Minister has been hiding the facts and pretending that in some way he’s acting lawfully, when he knows full well that he’s not.”
It’s surely time for the government to acknowledge it’s responsibilities – both legal and moral- in relation to asylum seekers seeking refuge in Australia, and to recognise that there is therefore an urgent need to close the detention centres on Christmas Island, Manus Island and Nauru. Asylum seekers in these centres should have their claims thoroughly and properly assessed, with a view to those receiving a positive determination of their claims being resettled in Australia without undue delay.
Yours sincerely
Mike Griffin
39, Rogers Drive, Valla Beach, NSW 2448

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