Thursday October 7 2004 09:45pm WST
For Immediate Release
(links to court transcripts below)
"This morning's High Court Decision relating to whether the ongoing detention four children is legal, shows the urgent need in Australia for a Bill of Rights", Project SafeCom spokesman Jack Smit said today.
From a statement by the Public Information Officer of the High Court:
"The children sought a writ of habeas corpus requiring Mr Woolley to release them, and either a writ of prohibition or an injunction to prohibit or restrain the Minister from detaining or continuing to detain them."
"The Court held that it was within the power of the Commonwealth Parliament to legislate for the detention of children as well as adults. It held that sections 189 and 196 of the Migration Act do not distinguish between unlawful non-citizens who are above and below the age of 18 years and other provisions of the Act contemplate the presence of children in detention centres. The Court also rejected the contention that the Act was invalid because children lacked the capacity to request their removal from Australia. The Court held that the discretion to request departure was vested in parents and guardians and that some children would be mature enough to make such a request for themselves."
"The Howard government has proven to be ruthless and merciless in relation to its administration of what in reality amounts to torture of children as well as adults, and the government is willing to have life-long detention for everyone who "has the temerity" to seek asylum in Australia."
This abominable situation creates the need for politicians in the new government to be elected this weekend, to immediately embark on a direct attempt to repeal many of the criminal consequences of the Migration Act when it gains power."
"We demand to have statements to this effect from both Mark Latham and John Howard."
"But, in addition to this, the new government should commit to the creation of a Bill of Rights. We also should hear from Mark Latham about this - we already have on the record a call for a Bill of Rights by the ALP President Dr Carmen Lawrence."
"This election campaign has been one of "don't mention the refugees" from both major parties, presumably because it's electorally explosive, and both major parties should be condemned for it, because the major scandal is that Australian politicians are prepared to lock up asylum seekers and their children forever, AND in addition try to silence the human rights crimes committed by John Howard, Phillip Ruddock and Amanda Vanstone in this election campaign."
"The High Court today also granted permission for an unaccompanied minor to appeal against a Full Federal Court decision, handed down last year, today. This decision has been welcomed by Project SafeCom, also because it shows that even seven judges of the Federal Court can be wrong in their decision."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
Re Woolley; Ex parte Applicants M276/2003 by their next friend GS  HCA 49 (7 October 2004)
WACB v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs  HCA 50 (7 October 2004)