NSWCCL condemns PM's attacks on Human Rights Commission

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties condemns the Prime Minister’s attack on the credibility of the Human Rights Commission (HRC), and Commissioner Gillian Triggs following the release of the Commission’s damning report into the detention of asylum seeker children.

Mr Abbott said that he felt no guilt whatsoever over the treatment of children in detention, including a 10 year old being on suicide watch.  That simplistic attitude deserves worldwide condemnation.  Australia’s treatment of children in immigration detention should be treated as a crime against humanity.

The NSWCCL supports the Human Rights Commission, whose role it is to see that human rights and fundamental freedoms are understood and respected in law, policy and practice, is independent from government, with a legislative mandate.

Independent authorities, such as the Human Rights Commission, are fundamental tomaintaining a free society and exposing abuse by the Australian Government of fundamental freedoms and rights.

The NSWCCL welcomes the HRC’s The Forgotten Children report.  The report follows on from the Commission’s reporting on the devastating effects that a succession of Federal government’s immigration policies have had on human lives over the past fifteen years. 

In 2014, the Federal government cynically traded the release of some children from detention for independent Senators’ votes on changes to the Migration Act.  But more than 200 children remain in detention, with no prospect of release under current policies.  

The Forgotten Children report highlights the exceptionality of Australia's immigration laws wherein no comparable country in the world, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, mandates the indefinite detention of children as the first policy option and then denies them effective access to the courts to challenge the necessity of their detention over months and even years.

The NSWCCL supports all recommendations of the report, including the recommendation that a royal commission be established to examine: the long term impacts of detention on the physical and mental health of children; the reasons for continued use of this policy since 1992, including offshore detention and processing; and remedies for any breaches of the rights of children that have been detained.