nswccl supports call for tampa families to be reunited

Monday, 25 August 2003 NSWCCL media release: 18/2003


NSWCCL, Amnesty International and representatives from almost 30 church, legal and refugee organisations today sent a letter to Prime Minister calling for nine women and 14 children currently detained on Nauru to be reunited with their husbands and fathers in Australia. 

The women and children from Iraq and Afghanistan have been detained on Nauru since the 'Tampa incident' two years ago tomorrow. They are among the 402 asylum seekers, including 108 children still detained on the island. NSWCCL President Mr Cameron Murphy today said:--

"This is an important issue, it is about reuniting families an upholding our international obligations." 

"The Federal Government should now place aside politics and move to resettle these families in Australia." 

"While men in these families have been granted refugee status, their wives and children are being left to rot in Naru as part of the 'Pacific Solution." 

"It is unacceptable and unrealistic to be expecting these women and children to return to dangerous warzones in Afghanistan and Iraq." 

"Virtually every day US troops are injured or killed in IRAQ yet the Government believes that is is safe for families to return. This position is simply wrong and defies logic."

A copy of the letter is attached below. Background information on the Tampa incident is available at http://www.amnesty.org.au/refugees/ref-fact07.html 

For further information contact: 

Cameron Murphy, President NSWCCL, 0411 769 769 
Gary Highland, Amnesty International, 02 9217 7620 or 0422 869 43 

Two Long Years 

Mr Howard, Please Reunite Tampa Refugee Families 

The Hon. John Howard 
Prime Minister 
Parliament House 

Dear Prime Minister 

On the second anniversary of the 'Tampa incident', we the undersigned call on the Australian Government to reunite the nine women and their 14 children who are in immigration detention on Nauru with their husbands and fathers in Australia. These men are on Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) and we request that the Government permit the women and children to reside in Australia under the same visa conditions. 

These women and children should have been accepted as refugees because of the status of their husbands and fathers. As Australia does not recognise 'derivative refugee status' under TPV legislation, their claims have been denied and they have been held in detention on Nauru for 2 years now. Coming from Iraq and Afghanistan they now face either indefinite detention or the possibility of returning to a dangerous and uncertain future. 

Family unity is recognised as a principle of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law. The family is acknowledged universally to be a fundamental unit of society. Significantly, the Convention on the Rights of the Child requires that family reunification shall be dealt with by States Parties in a positive, humane and expeditious manner. What can be regarded as more important and compelling than guaranteeing a child the right to live freely with both his or her parents in a secure environment? 

We believe that the Australian Government's denial of the possibility of family reunion under TPV legislation does not give effect to Australia's international obligations and we once again call on the Australian Government to reunite these families. 

Yours sincerely, 

Katrin Robinson, Acting National President 
Amnesty International Australia 

Howard Glenn, National Director 
A Just Australia 

Asylum Seekers Centre 

The Australian National Committee on Refugee Women 

Kevin Liston, Director 
Australian Refugee Association 

Joe Collins, Secretary 
Australia West Papua Association 

Fr. Frank Brennan SJ AO 

Julian Burnside QC 

Marc Purcell, Executive Officer 
Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace 

Dianne Hiles 
ChilOut (Children Out of Detention) 

Ethnic Communities' Council of NSW 

Hassan Ghulam, President 
Hazara Ethnic Society in Australia Inc. 

Chris Sidoti 
Human Rights Council of Australia 

Elizabeth Biok 
International Commission of Jurists 

Gillian Deakin, President, New South Wales 
Medical Association for the Prevention of War 

Brenda Hubber 
Melbourne Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office 

Mercy Foundation 

Mercy Refugee Service 

Missionary Sisters of Service 

James D Thomson 
National Education and Advocacy Officer, 
National Program on Refugees and Displaced People 
Christian World Service 
National Council of Churches in Australia 

Cameron Murphy, President 
NSW Council for Civil Liberties Inc. 

Dr Mohammed Alsalami, Chairman 
Organisation of Human Rights in Iraq 

Public Interest Advocacy Service 

Margaret Piper 
Refugee Council of Australia 

Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre Inc. 

Celestine Pooley 
Sisters of Mercy, North Sydney 

Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau 

Elenie Poulos 
Uniting Church in Australia 

Patty Fawkner, Director 
Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre 

Jane Brock, President, New South Wales 
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom 

Arnold Zable