*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Hard-liners warned

21 February 2014

PA

Protest: Refugee Action Coalition hold a rally outside the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in Sydney earlier this month, in protest against the planned deportation of a 65-year old Hazara Afghan who is due to be sent from Villawood detention centre back to Afghanistan

Protest: Refugee Action Coalition hold a rally outside the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in Sydney earlier this month, in protest ...

THE Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, a coalition of all the main Churches in Australia, has warned the Australian government against its increasingly hard-line stance against asylum-seekers.

In a submission to a senate committee investigating proposed amendments to migration law, the Taskforce said that there was a "decided lack of truth-telling in the discourse surrounding refugees and asylum-seekers". It said that this was evident in the language being used; in "the selective and distorted representations of fact"; and "in the growing secrecy of government and its apparatus". The submission quoted a recent Human Rights Watch report that describes the Australian government as "hell-bent on using cruel policies to deter asylum-seekers, even at the expense of the country's . . . reputation".

The Taskforce, under the umbrella of the National Council of Churches, was formed a year ago. Its 21 members represent nine denominations and three ecumenical bodies; it has an Amos Group of five patrons. It is chaired by the Dean of St John's Cathedral, Brisbane, the Very Revd Dr Peter Catt.

He has said that the proposed amendment, which would allow the Minister for Immigration to decide the fate of asylum-seekers not deemed to be refugees, would require the Minister to "play God".

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)