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AFRICAN MIGRANTS

Thoughts and Reflections on African Migration and Settlement in Australia.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

DETENTION OF CHILDREN

The High Court of Australia, the highest court in the land, has found in a landmark case that the detention of children was legal because it complied with the expressed will of the parliament, according to the recent issue of The Australian Financial Review.

Under the existing legislation, the asylum seekers and their children who enter the country illegally could be detained for long periods of time.

But some children, aged between 7 and 15, were released on temporary protection visas early this year, after three years in detention.

Nevertheless, there are 72 children in the immigration detention centres in Australia (and Christmas Island) - 29 of them in alternative detention, such as housing projects. Another 16 are being held in Nauru.

Justice Michael Kirby is on record as saying that the detention of children was legal despite the arguable breach of international obligations and the unfortunate consequences associated with such detention.

Thus, according to this view, the scheme of universal mandatory detention (of children) is a deliberately chosen, and repeatedly reaffirmed, decision of the Australian parliament, acting within its constitutional powers.

However, editorial writers and human rights advocates have expressed some concern about the High Court ruling; calling for policy change and an immediate end to the detention of children.

They are genuinely concerned about the physical and mental well being of children held in detention.

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