January 14th, 2009



Yesterday, a report into the Australian refugee policy was released. Here's the recap, courtesy of the BBC:

Australia's human rights watchdog has condemned the country's treatment of refugees.

Asylum seekers were being held in "utterly miserable conditions" for prolonged periods of time, the Human Rights Commission said.

Children continued to be detained, it said in its annual report.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promised a more humane refugee policy when he was elected in November 2007 and scrapped the policy of mandatory detention.

But a report from the government's own human rights watchdog has found that refugees continue to be held in poor conditions.


Most detention centres had the feel of prisons, the report said, with razor wire, cramped conditions and detainees kept under surveillance.

At the detention centre in Sydney, inmates slept in dormitory-style bunk beds, with little privacy and few areas to exercise.

The commission described the conditions there as "utterly miserable".

It also found that children continued to be detained, despite a pledge from the government to end that practice.

Of the almost 200 people in detention, over 40 had been held for more than two years. One person had been detained for six years.

Most detainees, the report said, experienced frustration, anger, distress and depression.

I sat here, thinking of something to say. I had a few witty comments about how new governments are much like old ones--for his work with refugees, former Prime Minister John Howard was awarded the Medal of Freedom and, it seems, offered a place to stay that saw Barack Obama and his kids sleeping in the gutter--but the truth is, outside that little joke that's the usual storm of nothing from the press, I've got nothing to add. The apathy and cynicism I have for so much of the 'world's leaders' is nothing you get in a day.