OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Religious leaders unite to call for a revision of immigration system which they say should show more respect for human rights

Wednesday, 1 June 2005

Sydney (Fides Service) - Better conditions for immigrants arriving in Australia even illegal ones and a revision of immigration system which should show more respect for the dignity and rights of the person are being demanded by religious leaders in a rare expression of unity. Catholics, Anglicans, other Christians and also Muslims voiced a shared opinion on the question of immigration and respect for human rights.
The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen and his bishops called for more compassionate measures as well as greater transparency and accountability and an independent review process outside the immigration department backing a private bill aimed a releasing children and their families from detention. The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils said the present immigration system portrayed Australia as an uncaring society.
The protestant Uniting Church said the country’s temporary detention policies were harmful to people’s wellbeing and unnecessarily punitive and called for a gesture of compassion for those who fled war and poverty hoping to find a better life in Australia.
The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference called for a revision of immigration policies judged to be too strict with forced repatriation and compulsory and unlimited detention for asylum seekers. The Catholic community criticised treatment of immigrants and proposed they be entrusted to the care of organisations such as the Red Cross or some religious organisation while waiting for asylum requests to be processed. The Catholic Bishops underlined the importance of proper pastoral care for migrants and say refugees arriving in the country must be welcomed and respected as human persons.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 1/6/2005 righe 26 parole 264)