Refugee groups today called for the permanent closure of the high security immigration detention facility on Christmas Island.

“Christmas Island detention centre should never have been built and should not be opened. It is a symbol of everything that was wrong with the refugee policies under the Howard government,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the refugee Action Coalition. “The asylum seekers presently on the island should be brought to the mainland,” he said.

“In August the Minister Chris Evans said that detention would be a last resort and that the Immigration department would have to show cause why anyone should be kept in detention. The Minister lacks the courage of his own convictions. He has caved into the scaremongering of the Opposition’s immigration spokesperson.

“He knows that the vast majority of these asylum seekers have valid protection claims yet he is keeping them confined on Christmas Island. Shamefully Christmas Island has become Labor’s Nauru. Worse Labor is repeating the discredited arguments that Christmas Island and mandatory detention is about being tough on border protection. It is a human rights abuses. Asylum seekers have never been a threat. They are not a threat now,” said Ian Rintoul.

“The 90 day deadline for processing asylum applications means that some of the people on Christmas Island should at least be living in the community, if not already have been granted protection visas. No body thought that Chris Evans would be confining processed asylum seekers to Christmas Island. There are no resources to care for the asylum seekers and they are so remote there is no access to community and legal support.”

“A humanitarian refugee policy demands the closure of Christmas Island detention centre and the end of keeping Christmas Island, Ashmore Reef and other islands excised from the Migration Act. Bring the asylum seekers to the mainland, Minister!”

Refugee Action Coalition media release, contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713 for more information

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