I was (somewhat) heartened by Karen Middleton’s article in The Saturday Paper [August 20-26, 2016], detailing the shifting debate on offshore detention. The recent material published by The Guardianreinforces the extensive chilling reporting on Manus and Nauru by The Saturday Paper.
There is growing recognition of the moral bankruptcy of the present offshore detention regime with experienced mainstream commentators increasingly articulating the unacceptability of current arrangements and the overriding need to engage in genuine regional dialogue about asylum flows.
It should never be forgotten that these asylum-seekers are victims, not criminals, the overwhelming majority of whom are consistently found by rigorous legal processes to be refugees within the meaning of the Refugees Convention. The evidence is irrefutable. Australia is subjecting them to serious and significant harm for reasons which a court would undoubtedly find come within the Refugee Convention definition: Australia, as a consequence of deliberate government policy, is persecuting those fleeing from persecution.
– John Blount, CLA member, Fadden ACT, former Director, Refugees Immigration & Asylum, DFAT 1990-1993, former Member, Refugee Review Tribunal, 1993-2002, former Deputy Principal Member, Refugee Review Tribunal, 2003-2006