CATH NEWS REPORT: A High Court judgement that effectively affords asylum seekers the same protection of the country's legal system as everyone else should spur the government to consider moving all asylum-seeker processing onshore, said the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in a statement.
"The bishops of Australia sincerely hope that this is the end of so-called 'Pacific solutions' in which those seeking asylum in Australia are moved to remote offshore locations in order to avoid their access to Australian laws," said the spokesperson for the bishops on migrant and refugee matters, Bishop Joe Grech.
"Mere political expediency is no justification for detaining such people in remote areas. Following this important ruling of the High Court, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Australia, I call upon the Australian Government to take immediate steps so that asylum seekers currently held in detention would be afforded the protection and the justice enshrined by the Migration Act," Bishop Grech said.
"All Australians will welcome the High Court's judgement that the rule of law must be followed by decision makers employed by the Australian Government. Most Australians would perhaps be surprised to learn that such a requirement has not been standard practice," he said.
According to the High Court, the persons employed by the contracting company engaged by the Department of Immigration to assess reviews of asylum seekers claims for refugee status "did not treat the provisions of the Migration Act 1958 (Commonwealth) and the decisions of Australian courts as binding, and, further, failed to observe the requirements of procedural fairness".
"It is a matter of great concern that people who are tasked with reviews that can be life or death matters are not required to consider the basic rules of Australian law," Bishop Grech said.