Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Abbott & Co take keeping asylum seekers in the dark to a new low

Not content with keeping Australian voters in the dark over the fate of one hundred and fifty men, women and children being detained at sea, these asylum seekers are literally not seeing much daylight.

Family members among 157 asylum seekers being held on the high seas are being held in separate rooms on a customs vessel but are allowed out for meals, according to documents lodged with the High Court on Tuesday.
While it was previously stated that 153 asylum seekers were on board a boat that was intercepted off Christmas Island more than three weeks ago, the documents say the actual number is 157.
A document filed by the Abbott government reveals that the national security committee of cabinet decided on July 1, two days after the boat was intercepted, that those on board "should be taken to a place other than Australia".
Their document says the asylum seekers are permitted "approximately three hours' outside during the day in natural light for meals", but says it would be unsafe to give them unrestricted movement.
The national security committee of cabinet includes Prime Minister Tony Abbott, deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Treasurer Joe Hockey, Attorney-General George Brandis, Defence Minister David Johnston and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.
The document maintains they were acting within the scope of the Maritime Powers Act in detaining the asylum seekers on the customs vessel and had no obligation to afford them procedural fairness.
Forty-nine of these detained persons (all allegedly from a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee camp in Pondicherry, India) have taken the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection to the High Court of Australia in JARK and Ors v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Anor [2014] HCATrans 150 (18 July 2014).

The matter  so far:

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