On the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Australian Coalition to End Immigration Detention of Children is calling on the Australian Government to immediately release all children from detention.
The Coalition, which comprises a number of Australian human rights and refugee organisations, says there are currently just under 800 children in detention in Australia and offshore whose rights are being violated.
Spokesperson for the Coalition to End Immigration Detention of Children and ChilOut Campaign Coordinator, Claire Hammerton, said it was essential the gove rnment alter its current practice and immediately release all children from detention in Australia and offshore.
“Australia is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which clearly states that children should not be unlawfully or arbitrarily detained. The UN Committee which oversees the Convention has recommended that children live in non-custodial, community based alternatives to detention while their immigration status is being determined,” Ms Hammerton said.
“But Australia’s current practice is to detain the innocent in detention in secure facilities for an indefinite time period and in remote, even offshore locations.
“We strongly believe that immigration detention is never under any circumstance in the best interests of the child. There is evidence that concludes children are being psychologically damaged in detention.
“The effects of detention are well documented – it causes despair, anxiety and depression in children. And the effects last long after people are released into society,” Ms Hammerton said.
To mark the occasion, the Coalition will be staging an event in front of St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne next Thursday where passersby will be encouraged to free a caged doll as a symbol of freeing a detained child.