THE Australian Federal Government has been accused of
"state-sanctioned child-abuse" by the Australian Churches Refugee
Taskforce because of its treatment of unaccompanied child
asylum-seekers in immigration detention centres in the country.
The taskforce has also called for the Minister for Immigration,
Scott Morrison, to be stripped of guardianship responsibility for
the children. Mr Morrison has described the accusations as
"shocking and offensive", and has rejected them
The chairman of the taskforce, the Very Revd Dr Peter Catt, the
Dean of Brisbane, condemned the government's policies. He said that
the children were being held "like animals in conditions that are
inhumane, interrogated without support or representation, shipped
around the country and offshore in the middle of the night, and
denied basic rights including education".
The government's failure to heed "irrefutable independent
evidence from health and legal experts about the plight of these
children" meant that the taskforce had "no hesitation in labelling
this what it is - statesanctioned child-abuse".
"It is a sick joke that, under Australia's inadequate
Guardianship Act, their jailer is also their guardian, the Minister
for Immigration," Dr Catt said.
About 135 unaccompanied children are currently in Australian
onshore and offshore detention centres.
The taskforce consists of representatives from nine Christian
Churches, including Anglican, Baptist, Roman Catholic, Lutheran,
the Churches of Christ, and the Uniting Churches. In a report
released this week, it has called for, among other things,
community care for all unaccompanied children, the appointment of
an independent child asylum-seekers' guardian, and an inquiry into
the conditions under which children are currently being held.