2 June 2012
During the month of May the global Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children focused on the detention of children in Australia. During that month the number of children detained in facilities across Australia dropped from 463 to 281 according to the Australian Minister for Immigration.
Nevertheless the issue of children in immigration detention made headlines in Australia again recently after a young mother and her sons were taken from their home and placed in detention – indefinitely.
Ranjini from Sri Lanka was verified as a genuine refugee and set about starting a new life with her new husband in Melbourne. She and her husband recently discovered they’re expecting their first child together. But 2 weeks ago the Australian Security and Intelligence organisation (ASIO) revised her security finding which means that now she and her young sons join around 50 other refugees (including 6 children) held without knowing the reasons for their detention, without independent review and without an opportunity for appeal.
The best guess for the reason for her detention is that her former husband, who is dead, may once have been a driver for Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka. However as refugee advocates have pointed out, even if that is true, it does not involve the woman and her children in any sort of offence, and it says nothing about their character.
At present, Australian law allows a child to be imprisoned (potentially for life) without having broken the law and without being able to challenge the reason for their imprisonment.
Australia is one of the only countries in the world with a policy of mandatory, indefinite detention for asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Up to 4,000 people are held under this policy and hundreds of children have also been affected.
A petition is available at the above website to End Immigration Detention of Children.