Thursday April 29 2004 10:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"While Project SafeCom expresses its disappointment in today's High Court ruling, stating that the Family Court has no jurisdiction to order the release of children from Australian detention centres, it also firmly reaffirms its commitment to work with the thousands of other refugee advocates in organisations or in smaller groups around Australia to keep alerting Australians to the continuing breaches of the International Convention of the Rights of the Child by the Howard government."
"No court decisions can blur the fact that Australia's detention of children is a breach of international laws and conventions, that it is immeasurably cruel, and that it causes untold damage, evidenced for example by the still outstanding damages claim before an Australian civil court by a now eight-year old boy, who became catatonic because of the deeply damaging and traumatizing environment in detention. Under this claim $700 000 is being sought from the former Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock in compensation - and that's just by one family."
"Lately, first with a manipulative speech at The Sydney Institute, and yesterday on Channel Nine's 'A Current Affair', the Minister for Immigration Amanda Vanstone seeks to discredit a large, committed and unrelenting network of ordinary citizens around Australia - the refugee movement - by alleging that it "uses children to support their cause"."
"The Minister is seriously mistaken. It was her government that has sought to manipulate public opinion by spreading vilification and lies about "children being thrown overboard", and since that time tens of thousands of Australians have become committed to informing the public about International Conventions and Human Rights."
"Now, nearly three years on, in already hundreds of schools, teachers and principals are committed to Human Rights education, and children learn about the United Nations Refugee Agency and the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the role of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity and also its damning report card on the Howard government's asylum policies."
"And if that inevitably must include exposing the horrors and misery the Howard government has created in Australia, then the Minister has only herself and her own government to blame. If that includes furious and indignant letters from children that call her "a racist pig", well, that's just 'too bad'."
"In addition to the misery this government creates at a cost of billions of dollars to the Australian taxpayer, it has also sought to disable the independence of HREOC and it has expressed to want to overturn State's Bills of Rights that are being developed."
"This government is an international disgrace in the way it seeks to undermine and eliminate human rights from Australia, and it deserves nothing but the strongest condemnation for its destructive work in our country."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]