Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Volume 51, Issue 4, pages 353–354, April 2015
Australia has had controversial legislation for mandatory detention of asylum seekers since 1992 and legislation since 2001 allowing indefinite detention of such persons on the mainland, Christmas Island or ‘offshore’ on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and on the small Pacific island nation of Nauru. Despite frequent protests from lawyers, doctors and humanitarian organisations that such policies infringe human rights and blatantly contravene the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, to which Australia is a co-signatory, both major political parties have persisted with these cruel policies. The clear aim is deterrence. Asylum seekers are demonised as potential terrorists or as economic migrants, callously and inaccurately referred to as ‘illegals’, and imprisoned indefinitely with no knowledge of when and where they will be released. The reason for such poor morality is political: the issue of asylum seekers who arrive by boat wins and lose elections: votes are more important than children’s lives.
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