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Council of Churches says Nauru aslyum seeker decision is a welcome step

Nauru national flag

The National Council of Churches (NCCA) welcomes the decision by the Immigration Minister, Senator Vanstone, to bring the vast majority of asylum seekers detained on Nauru for the past four years to Australia.

“The decision shows the Minister’s flexibility and compassion for these people who suffer serious mental health problems due to long-term detention in the Pacific island processing camp. Significantly, 13 of the 27 have finally been granted refugee status. All the remaining asylum seekers also have a genuine claim on our help for a satisfactory, permanent solution, not least due to their unnecessary suffering under our government’s policy,” said the Revd John Henderson, NCCA General Secretary.

“The NCCA, on behalf of its member Churches, has long asked the government to abandon its ‘Pacific Solution’ strategy. This strategy involves excising Australian islands from the migration zone, constructing a large detention centre on Christmas Island and creating the option of diverting boats of asylum seekers to Nauru and PNG for processing. It would be better if Australia pursued a regional approach with neighbouring countries and UNHCR, to better protect the human rights of any future asylum seekers,” said Mr Henderson.

“This year’s Palmer Inquiry into the illegal detention of Cornelia Rau put the spotlight on the mental health needs of asylum seekers and the inadequacy of services provided to them while in detention. It is unrealistic for the government to assume that such health needs can be adequately met on Christmas Island or in the Pacific.”

"Two asylum seekers are to remain on Nauru, reportedly due to their having failed security checks, in order to have their cases resolved. The two involved deny not co-operating with such checks. Given the better medical and legal expertise in Australia, it would seem to be reasonable to bring these two asylum seekers to Australia to resolve their status,” concluded Mr Henderson.

Photo : Nauru national flag