4 March 2014


Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers was again in the spotlight following the violent death of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati after protests on Manus Island escalated into violence involving guards, local contractors and asylum seekers which also resulted in injuries to 77 other detainees.

Events prompted more than 750 "light the dark” vigils across Australia in protest at Australian immigration policies.

Even before these latest events, there has been widespread condemnation of the policy voiced by Australian church leaders , the Australian Human Rights Commission and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which following two visits by a UNHCR Team to the detention centre on Manus Island, has concluded on both occasions, that arrangements do not meet international protection standards for the reception and treatment of asylum-seekers. These visits followed an earlier United Nations assessment that found Australia guilty of almost 150 violations of international law for indefinitely detaining refugees.

Catholic Religious Australia - the peak body representing Religious Congregations in Australia has for this lenten season invited participation in a ‘National Lament’ campaign of prayer, penance and action for people seeking asylum in Australia.

Edmund Rice International will deliver an oral statement on this issue during the current session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. (the statement will appear under 'ERI statements' when finalised and delivered later this month)

The cruelty and inhumanity of the policy together with the hypocrisy of the current minister are clearly articulated in this letter to the minister for immigration and border protection.

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