28 February 2013
The full story can be read at the Chilout website
The most recent set of statistics released by the Australian government reveals that there are currently 1221 children locked in Australia's immigration detention facilities, hundreds are believed to be unaccompanied.
Australia is the only Refugee Convention signatory nation to have a policy of indefinite detention for asylum seekers, no matter what their age.
International research has found that even short-term detention is harmful for a child’s mental and physical health and cognitive development. Children in detention are often denied adequate medical care and proper access to education, have limited opportunities to play, and witness their parents treated without dignity. Detention violates their human rights and increases their risk of sexual and physical abuse.
In 2012 Edmund Rice International submitted a report on Australia's treatment of asylum seekers as part of the review of Australia carried out by the Committee on the Rights of the Child. In its concluding observations the Committee again expressed its deep concern at the he mandatory detention of children in an irregular migration situation without time limits and judicial review, the failure to prioritise the principle of 'the best interest of the child' in asylum and refugee considerations and the conflict of interest where the legal guardianship of unaccompanied minors is vested with the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship who is also responsible for immigration detention and determinations of refugee and visa applications.
Australian Young Christian Students (YCS) are calling on the Prime Minister and Australian Parliament to uphold rights of Child Convention and end the detention of children. With the recent amendments to the Migration Act, the wellbeing of these children is set to get even worse. The Parliament has not ensured that a guardian for the children will be sent offshore, so there is no-one who can advocate for their needs. No legal safeguards have been put in place to ensure their safety. To support YCS in their call for the rights of vulnerable children and young people, visit the petition website