OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA-The Church accuses the government of not respecting the UN Convention for the protection of children

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - The Australian Government has decided to send 800 refugees to Malasia, including the children who are alone, in a sort of exchange of refugees. This initiative will not only endanger the lives of the young, but it would violate the UN Convention on the Rights of Children, signed also by Australia. The warning, issued in a statement by the Archdiocese of Sydney and sent to Fides, comes from father Jim Carty, Coordinator of the Marist Asylum Seekers and Refugee Services. "The Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen would automatically become the legal guardian of all the lonely immigrant children, arrived in Australia by sea seeking asylum. Sending them to a country where human rights are very insecure and their safety is not at all guaranteed, is a clear failure of the UN Convention that Australia had assured to fulfill " declared father Carty.
In a meeting with representatives of the Australian Refugee Council, Amnesty International, House of Welcome, Jesuit Refugee Service, Red Cross and other groups working in favor of refugees, Father Carty highlighted his concern regarding the decision of the Minister that would be included in the so-called "Malaysian Solution". "No one can guarantee the safeguard nor the protection of children upon arrival in Malaysia," insisted father Carty during the meeting which is held regularly to address issues related to refugees. "They would be subject to Malaysian law which also includes flogging". The priest said he was horrified by this proposal, considering it only a matter of government policy that would like to "trade" the 800 refugees in return for 4000 refugees detained in Malaysia. The coordinator of Marist Asylum Seekers and Refugee Services also stated that the government policies on both sides have fueled a kind of fear towards the boat people. The main concern is for asylum seekers, particularly children, who in Malaysia could face starvation and abuse, failure to attend school and at risk of being detained for more than 4 or 5 years. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 06/07/2011)