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Monday, 26 May 2003
Page: 14831

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives.

The petition of certain residents of Australia draws to the attention of the House the appalling distress and human suffering caused by the policy of detaining asylum seekers who arrive in Australia without acceptable documents. We point out that this distress has led to numerous hunger strikes and protests by asylum seekers within detention centres.

We point out that while asylum seekers are frequently referred to as `illegal', it is legal, under the international Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, signed by Australia, for persons with a well-founded fear of persecution to enter Australia seeking refuge. We point out that Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission considers that the law requiring detention of almost all unauthorised arrivals (Migration Act 1958 (Cth) sections 189 and 196) contravenes international human rights laws.

Your petitioners therefore ask the House to change all relevant laws and regulations to:

· allow asylum seekers to live freely within the Australian community while their claim for asylum is being assessed;

· immediately free all asylum seekers held in detention;

· give asylum seekers the right to access the same social security allowances as permanent residents, and on the same conditions;

· provide asylum seekers with English classes, and the range of support services appropriate to their needs.

by Mr Bevis (from 566 citizens)