The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council says that cruelty is the unequivocal consequence of keeping children in detention and calls on the Government to honour its 2010 promise to end child detention.
Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said he was deeply saddened to learn that around 528 children remain in immigration detention centres or alternative places of detention in Australia.
He applauded recent efforts to bring this appalling practice to light, such as, the Australian launch of the worldwide campaign to end child detention celebrated in Melbourne yesterday.
“The mandatory detention, especially of children, continues to be a serious abuse of human rights. The continued detention of people who pose no danger to the community is unjustifiable by any moral standard,” Dr Falzon said.
“I encourage all Australians to sign the global petition against child detention, which will be taken to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva later this year. The petition can be found at www.endchilddetention.org
In the meantime the St Vincent de Paul Society National President, Anthony Thornton, urged the Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, who is the official guardian of many unaccompanied minors in detention, to stop the cruel practice of mandatory detention.
“In 2008 the Government referred to its ‘changes’ to immigration detention policy as a reversal of a shameful chapter in our history,” Mr Thornton said.
“Four years ago the Government promised to use detention only as a last resort and for the shortest practicable time. They also promised to end the detention of children and we call on them to uphold that promise.”