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Josephites Join In Urgent Pleas for Asylum Seekers

July 04, 2014

This week, Josephites from around the world have joined the Refugee Council and other human rights groups in pleading for the rights of desperate people fleeing for their lives.

At this time, the Australian Government is proposing changes to the Migration Act, which will increase the risks of asylum seekers being returned to dangerous situations, where they face the possibility of torture or death.

‘I believe that, as Australians and as human beings, we are better than this’, said Congregational leader, Sister Monica Cavanagh. ‘I personally know of asylum seekers who have been returned to Sri Lanka, only to face torture and death. I’m sure that we would think differently if it were our family facing such horrors, or if we knew the stories and the people confronted with such terror.’

The Government has argued that its policies are necessary to prevent people drowning at sea, and thus to save lives. If politicians were really concerned about saving lives, however, then surely they would be trying to protect asylum seekers from torture and death, whether on boats, or in the countries from which they are fleeing persecution. It does not seem to concern politicians, however, that torture and death could be the outcome if asylum seekers are forced to return to these countries.

Josephites have a number of concerns:

  • Australia has an obligation, under the International Refugee convention, to help people fleeing persecution
  • These proposed laws could literally be a matter of life or death for asylum seekers
  • These changes will not strengthen the integrity of processing system. As the Refugee Council has pointed out: ‘They will serve only to demonise asylum seekers and place lives at risk – the same lives the Government has claimed all along to be so deeply concerned about.’

Josephites urge politicians of good will to consider carefully these changes and to resist them, not only in the interests of asylum seekers, but also for the good of this country.

‘We grieve these proposed changes on many fronts,’ said Sister Monica. ‘As we have argued throughout this debate, we grieve for those who will suffer enormously because of the actions of our Government. But we mourn also the apparent undermining of what is best in our nation’s values by turning our backs, instead of extending our hands.’


The Josephite Justice Office (JJO) is a ministry of the Congregations of the Sisters of St Joseph. We educate, advocate and work for justice, for earth and people, especially those pushed to the edges.

Contact: Jan Barnett rsj Josephite Justice Coordinator 0403 634 534 ?


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