Church decries Australian detention death

Migrants suffer ‘restrictive policies’

The Church in Australia has criticised the government there following a fatality during a violent outbreak at a camp for migrants.

Responding to news that an Iranian asylum seeker had died during clashes with police at the Manus Detention Centre in Papua New Guinea (PNG) on February 17, Bishop Gerard Hanna, the Australian bishops’ delegate for Migrants and Refugees said the country’s international reputation was suffering due to its “restrictive policies”.

“How our government treats those in its care speaks to our community and internationally about what is acceptable in the treatment of our fellow human beings,” Bishop Hanna said. “Australia was once a place of refuge but now the journey to Australia is marked by grief, hardship and further exile.”

Bishop Hanna called on the government to offer migrants full legal assistance to have their claims for asylum heard before independent authorities.

“It is essential that nations uphold the rule of law and respect fundamental human rights, such as the right to seek asylum,” he said.

The Manus Detention was opened in PNG in 2001 under an agreement with Australia to house migrants. Closed in 2004, it was reopened in 2012 to accommodate a new movement of migrants towards Australian shores.