Have mercy on drug traffickers but indefinite detention for innocent children….
CANBERRA: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says his Government is continuing to plead with Indonesia to spare the lives of Bali Nine drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Both men have now had their appeals for presidential clemency formally rejected and face execution by firing squad.
In a statement, Mr Abbott said Chan and Sukumaran “deserve mercy”, and described them as “reformed characters” who had helped to rehabilitate other prisoners.
Meanwhile, Australia has one of the strictest immigration detention regimes in the world. Detention is mandatory for maritime arrivals; detention is not subject to a time limit; and asylum seekers arriving by boat are unable to access the courts to challenge their detention.
All non-citizens who arrive in Australia by boat are subject to a regional processing framework in third countries—Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island—where conditions are extremely harsh. Both locations are isolated with small populations, with minimal infrastructure and limited or no community services.
The asylum seekers in detention are exposed to a high risk of developing severe psychological disorders, including depression and anxiety, leading to self-harm and suicide. Critical incidents including violent protests and high rates of self-harm including lip sewing, self-laceration, hunger strikes and suicide have been directly attributed to the extended periods in detention, coupled with overcrowding.
Asylum seekers in Australia are subjected to prolonged and indefinite detention by the application of the “no advantage” principle (whereby maritime arrivals will not be processed any faster than they would have been had they been in a refugee camp in a third country) that actively encourages long delays in processing claims for asylum and exploration of re-settlement options, thus failing the requirements of appropriateness, justice and predictability.
Australia’s immigration policy does not distinguish between children and adults. Children arriving in Australia by boat, including unaccompanied children, also face mandatory detention and transfer to a third country. Consequently, Australia is breaching its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to ensure that children are only held in detention as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.
There have also been accusations that Australian naval ships routinely pushed back overloaded and rickety asylum boats back to international waters with total disregard to the safety of the refugees.