Canberra urged to ease asylum detention laws

Australia’s main opposition party urged the government on Sunday to immediately release detained families seeking asylum and move them to supervised houses instead.

    An Australian government hand
    out picture of a refugee camp

    Labour Party immigration spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, said the government should allow families seeking asylum to move to supervised homes in small towns to provide a normal life for their children.


    Last week, the Family Court ruled that prolonged detention of children was unlawful.


    Asylum seekers, including families, who enter Australia illegally, are placed in remote detention centres, sometimes for years.


    The practice has been repeatedly condemned by the United Nations and human rights groups, especially because it does not exclude children.


    But the Family Court last week said it had an obligation under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to protect minors held in custody.


    Chief Justice, Alistair Nicholson, said the court determined that the Migration Act “could not have intended the indefinite detention of children”.


    The Act covers the handling of illegal immigration.


    The court decision came after a mother appealed a ruling by a lower Family Court, which said it could not order Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock to release her sons from detention.


    The mother said the detention of her sons, aged 12 and 14, was harmful to their welfare.


    Gillard and other politicians have called on the government not to appeal the court decision that detention of children is unlawful.


    “Rather than just rail against the court decision, we think minister Ruddock should actually be doing something to actually help children in detention and get them out from behind the razor wire”, Gillard said.


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