Treatment of Asylum seekers by Sayomi Ariyawansa

UNExtract byimagesCAEF97OG Sayomi Ariyawansa From Future Leaders

Detention-centre advocates tell us that our tough attitude towards “boat people” is a deterrent for others who may consider seeking asylum here. They tell us these people are a burden that we don’t want, and the best way to stop them is to show them that Australia is not an open country and will not accept everyone. However, there is a line between tough and inhumane, a line that is blurred in terms of our refugee policy. Our current system humiliates and psychologically damages innocent people and goes against UN conventions.

There must be a better way to treat this issue, and we should consider the systems in place by other countries. The UN International Refugee Convention requires host countries to treat asylum seekers with dignity and respect while
Australia’s Treatment of Refugees is Unnecessarily Harsh

their claims for asylum are processed. There is increasingly more and more evidence that detention centres hold asylum seekers in conditions harsher than those felt by convicted criminals. After Baxter detention centre held a mentally ill Australia citizen for nine months, an investigation showed the harsh conditions within detention centres. There are beds without mattresses, toilets without doors and showers without curtains. Is this how Australia treats asylum seekers with dignity and respect?

The United Nations Human Rights Commission has said that conditions in Australia’s detention centres are “offensive to human dignity”. Not only are detention centres stripping innocent people of their dignity, there are increasing claims that the harsh condi- tions within the centres are psychologically damaging. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have said that Australia’s detention centres are “worse than prisons” and saw “alarming levels of self-harm”.

Australia is not alone in using detention centres for processing refugees, but its callous treat- ment of refugees within the centres, their harsh conditions and the unnecessary time spent in detention have brought upon much criticism from multitudes of human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International. This criticism apparently has no effect on the Australian Government which continues its appalling treatment of people who seek refuge and acceptance here.

The spirit of the survivors of the most ruthless political regimes is often destroyed by the harsh environment they are placed in. Their resilience is tested, and the psychological damage done makes it extremely difficult for them to rejoin society as healthy, productive citizens. These people can enrich our community greatly, but in order to do so they deserve a fair go.

Detention-centre advocates tell us that detention is neces- sary in order to determine the asylum seeker’s identity. They also believe that detention centres are the best way to deter other arrivals. However, many countries need to deal with asylum seekers, and many of these countries do so with policies that are far more humane and concur with UN conventions.

Sweden is a country that has a policy that Australia should consider. If asylum seekers arrive in Sweden without appropriate documentation, they are placed in a detention centre. Their stay in the detention centre does not exceed six months and children may not be detained longer than six days. The detention centres in Sweden do not resort to barbed-wire fences, and all detainees have full access to legal advice, counselling and have the right to appeal their being held in detention. Asylum seekers are only required to remain in deten- tion centres for the time it takes to ascertain their identities and not the entire procedure.

Once their identities are confirmed they are released into Refugee Reception Housing or move in with friends whilst they await the decision. The Swedish system allows for all proper processing, ensuring national security as well as maintaining the asylum seeker’s right to being treated with dignity and respect. This is in comparison to many genuine refugees held in detentions centres for several years in Australia, regardless of their age. Asylum seekers are virtually stripped of their basic human rights, and do not have access to legal advice. Australia can learn from the Swedish policy.

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13 Responses to “Treatment of Asylum seekers by Sayomi Ariyawansa”

  1. 8 Degrees of Latitude Says:

    Reblogged this on 8degreesoflatitude and commented:
    We need to hear more of this and less of the “they’re coming to get us” nonsense.


  2. auntyuta Says:

    Reblogged this on auntyuta and commented:
    I urge all politicians to look at the conditions in detention centers and to raise their voices so that necessary changes can be made. This is a long overdue matter!


  3. auntyuta Says:

    I urge all politicians to look at the conditions in detention centers and to raise their voices so that necessary changes can be made. This is a long overdue matter!
    I reblogged this post.


  4. catterel Says:

    Refugees and asylum seekers are treated as undesirables and housed in poor conditions in many countries – this sounds appalling, but thank God someone has taken the lid off. If the situation is not publicised, nothing will be done.


  5. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Very appropiate post to inform the world of the unnecessary and cruel laws that have been imposed by australian politicians. I don’t know why the UN can not step in and demand reform or some organization with clout. I reckon the world just stands by and says nothing for few people actually care.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The UN has rebuked Australia on several occasions but seem to not have the cloud to enforce better more humane treatments. ‘Crimes against humanity’ would be one way to shake this government up.


  6. elizabeth2560 Says:

    Thank you for raising awareness on this issue by posting this article.


  7. WordsFallFromMyEyes Says:

    A very well written article. Just excellent. I am with you in this. The treatment of the people is simply wrong.


  8. aussieian2011 Says:

    A subject that has many implications, both politically and morally, many Australians agree with the sentiments in this blog and yet many disagree,the bottom line is that the UN is advocating how we must process asylum seekers and stipulate the conditions while they are being processed, I agree in regards to the conditions in detention being unsuitable. At the end of the day though, Australia is asking two questions, one is does Australia have the right to exercise its border protection policy, unencumbered by the UN ? secondly why should Australia bother with an asylum seeker policy and detention at all, if the illegal boat people are simply going to be processed and accepted before those that go through the correct channels ? The real question that Australia needs to know is, what is classified as a refugee and what is classified as an asylum seeker ?
    A refugee, by definition, is someone fleeing their country because their very life is in threat. This is not the case anymore, we are now experiencing a flow of people, under the guise of refugees, who are leaving their country, purely for financial opportunism, a new life in our supposedly, lucky country.
    Australia,s border security and internal security is now being recognised as it should be, Border security, managed by Tony Abbotts government, that recognises that this security is based on a military policy, not a politicians policy. A military policy in regards to Australia,s border security requiers a non disclosure of military matters,Abbotts policy is correct, under the Labor, Gilliard and Rudd scenario , we were inundated daily with every newsbreak on asylum arrivals, did you notice the same news comments at the end of every newsbreak ? It was repetitious and stated ad nauseum, they are being sent to Christmas island for medical checks and processing, damn it, this story has been told for over six years now, can anyone really explain how many asylum seekers can fit on Christmas island before it sinks ?
    The solution lies directly with close communication with Indonesia, a communication that is both politically and financially viable to both countries,
    Indonesia and Australia have a healthy trade and economic relationship with two-way trade (merchandise and services) worth $14.9 billion in 2011-12, and two-way investment worth around $5.9 billion in 2011.
    In 2012-2013 Australia gave $541.6 million in overseas aid to Indonesia
    In 2012-2013 400 hundred asylum seeker boats arrived in Australian waters.
    Ostensibly, Australia is paying Indonesia for the importation of these refugees (asylum seekers, illegal immigrants ).
    The answer can only be reached through financial constraints, for every boat that arrives in Australian waters, Australia should remove $500.000 dollars from the Indonesian aid programme, this money is what it will cost the Australian taxpayers for accomodation, processing, medical, education, training and employment and finally integration and assimilation into Australia.
    Indonesia turns a blind eye to the refugee problem, and yet accepts Australian aid each year to the tune of $541.6 million dollars, the taxpayers money.
    Politicians on both sides of parliament are reluctant to raise the ire of Indonesia, a fiscal fine on overseas aid to Indonesia will bring a sudden halt to the boat people/asylum seeker problem.
    Which party has the fortitude to cut back overseas aid to Indonesia ?
    A fiscal fine on overseas aid, is the only path to follow, to allow Australia to have some control over its border security and internal security.



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