17 September 2012
In a statement to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on the human rights of migrants, the Holy See (Vatican) stated that “detention of migrants in any form, and especially indefinite detention, is a violation of a migrant’s basic human right to freedom and has no support in international law and should not be upheld by international norms”
Noting that “Migration is a natural response to internal disorder, fear of persecution or violence, and poor economic opportunity” the statement went on to note that “it is essential that migrants, due to their inherent human dignity as persons, receive fully the complete range of their human rights and freedoms. States must not degrade the dignity of the person through policy, practice or attitude whether through the criminalization of migration, the detention of irregular migrants or any other practice that divides families or victimizes migrants.”
Meanwhile in Australia the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, has joined other Australian Christian church leaders in condemnation of the Australian Government legislation to allow offshore processing and the indefinite detention of asylum seekers.
Under the Government's new "no advantage" asylum seeker policy not only will those arriving by boat on Australian shores be sent to re-opened isolated, remote detention centres on Nauru and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, but face the possibility of remaining there for decades.
The joint statement expresses grave concern at the return of offshore processing and the potential for asylum seekers to suffer adverse mental and health consequences as a result of the Government's amended legislation.
While acknowledging answers to "this complicated humanitarian challenge" was difficult, the Church leaders said that as such a rich and secure nation, Australia had a particular responsibility to ensure "we work positively with other nations to develop a range of a strategies grounded in compassion and that seek to honour the moral responsibility we have to victims of violence and persecution."