“Amnesty International Refugee Campaign Coordinator Alexandra Pagliaro told SBS Australia’s detention policy breaches Article 31 of the Refugee Convention, which is about not punishing asylum seekers for their mode of arrival…

“Currently, if you arrive by plane as an asylum seeker you are able to live in the community, to work, to send your kids to school while your claim is being processed. So there’s really no reason why this can’t happen for boat arrivals as well”…

“Article 31 of the 1951 Convention exempts refugees coming directly from a country of persecution from being punished on account of their illegal entry or presence, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence,” the document says… The detention of asylum-seekers who come “directly” in an irregular manner should, therefore, not be automatic or unduly prolonged”…

Ms Pagliaro also says living conditions for asylum seekers detained in Australia’s detention centres should be improved.  

“When we have gone to visit Christmas Island and Curtin detention centre, we’ve seen some pretty horrible situations there where you have people that have already fled war and torture and pretty severe persecution, so are quite traumatised, locked up indefinitely with no support,” she told SBS… Ms Pagliaro said overcrowding was an issue.

“We have seen people placed in tents on Christmas Island, or in situations where it’s extremely hot, like at Curtin detention centre, or extremely cold.

“The last time we visited Christmas Island we saw people being given psychic assessments in corridors with many other people around them,” she told SBS…

 

Ms Pagliaro says while the government says it takes maximum 90 days to process asylum claims, often that doesn’t happen for people who arrive by boat.

“For plane arrivals up to three months is generally how long it takes, but because they are in remote detention where is very hard to send officers, and because the all detention system at the moment is very unsustainable, it’s taking a lot longer than that: it’s taking six months, it’s taking a year, it’s taking two years”…

Amnesty’s Alexandra Pagliaro also called on the government to better protect the rights of child asylum seekers in Australia.

“There are hundreds of children in detention at the moment — that is in breach of primarily the convention of the right of the child where government are supposed to act what’s in the best interest of the child,” Ms Pagliaro told SBS.

“And I don’t think that anyone could agree that being locked up in a remote detention centre, such as Leonora, is in the best interest of any children.”… The ‘UNHCR Revised Guidelines on Applicable Criteria and Standards Relating to the Detention of Asylum Seekers’, say “unaccompanied minors should not, as a general rule, be detained”…

For full, original text, visit: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1558471/Is-Australia-breaching-the-UN-Convention

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