Children behind bars?
The Federal Government today announced it had met an important commitment, removing children from detention. But it is only some, the detaining of children will continue and some are still being held indefinitely.
“Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says there are currently 956 children asylum seekers in the detention system and 58 per cent are now living in community accommodation.
“The government has met this important commitment, with 531 children – both unaccompanied minors and those with family members – currently residing in community-based accommodation,” Mr Bowen said on Wednesday.”
But the real moral questions still remain. Why are we locking children up in the first place? What is stopping the government from releasing all minors from behind the razor wire and will the government follow through on its plan to deport unaccompanied minors to Malaysia?
The answer to the first question is political only. We simply do not need to detain children in detention! This is purely a result of the political games that have been played with innocent lives over the last decade or so. There is no practical reason for long term detention, they do not constitute a security risk and health checks can be conducted very quickly in almost every case. So politicians have imprisoned children because they believe we, the voters, support it. Do you?
The answer to why all children can’t be released is also simple, they have backed themselves into a corner that to release all children would be to admit the detaining of them in the first place was immoral. There are many NGO’s willing to take on unaccompanied minors, others are with their mothers who could be settled in the community, while many require immediate health care for both physical and mental issues. Their continuing detention makes their health worse…, so not only are we imprisoning them, exposing them to a jail like environment, we are also creating health complications that will not disappear. Not for the child, not for the health sector that will face the burden and not for the tax payer who simply foots the bill. If for no other reason, economically this is wrong. But if you have to go that far to prove the argument about a child’s needs, economics, then we lost the moral high ground long ago.
Lastly we confront an issue that is about to smack this country right across the face. With the “Malaysian solution” comes the news that unaccompanied minors will be sent to the refugee camps of Malaysia. They will be afforded no rights under Malaysian law, they will not be able to legal travel, work or seek health care. They will be children, exported by Australia, to a country were young girls face a lifetime inside the under world trade of child sex slaves. They have committed no crime, they or perhaps their parents uprooted them from countries where they already faced great danger and now, on their own, we a nation of great wealthy will send them to certain rape.
Turn your head if you will, say it ain’t so. But then look at your own children, look at the children you know or in your street and ask would it be ok for them? It most certainly would not be. Nor would we do the same to a little Jane, Jenny or Jill. This issue has an element of racism that cannot be ignored. It is also an issue of politics, socio-economic issues, morality and international conflicts. But jailing innocent children? Sending them into sex slavery?
Politicians believe you are OK with this or at least apathetic enough in numbers they will get away with it. Are you?