Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Asylum Seekers: UN rights chief welcomes shift in Australian asylum policy

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today welcomed Australia’s newly announced change in its asylum policy to allow some undocumented migrants arriving by boat – currently sent to mandatory detention – to be placed in the community on bridging visas.

“I am pleased to see this latest shift in policy, bringing in individual assessments of asylum seekers for release into the community,” Ms. Pillay said. “I welcome these steps towards a more human approach to asylum-seekers in Australia which can only help to strengthen the tolerance and understanding necessary in a modern multicultural society,” she said.

During her visit in May, Ms. Pillay urged the country to rethink its asylum policies, and put an end to mandatory detention. Under the new policy, migrants will undergo an initial assessment of health, security and identity upon their arrival before being placed into the community.

“Over the course of the year, Australia has made real progress in its treatment of asylum-seekers. The majority of children have now been removed from immigration detention facilities and are now in the community. I look forward to seeing further reductions in the numbers of asylum-seekers in detention by the use of alternatives of this sort,” Ms. Pillay said.