Child rights organisation Plan International Australia has joined a 30-strong coalition of human rights and development agencies to demand the Coalition Government release all children held in detention on Nauru by 20 November.
The Kids Off Nauru campaign launched in Canberra today. It gives the Government until International Children’s Day to release the 119 children currently imprisoned on Nauru.
Plan International Australia’s CEO Susanne Legena said many of these children suffer severe mental health problems, including reports of ‘resignation syndrome’, where a child becomes near catatonic and simply gives up on life.
“Put simply: no child belongs in prison. The reality is our Government is locking up innocent children and that’s something Australia ought to be ashamed of,” Ms Legena said.
“These children have done nothing wrong. They have become innocent victims and are paying the highest price imaginable for political gain. We must consider the welfare of children before the politics of immigration.
“When Americans discovered children were being detained under their immigration policy, they were rightly horrified and there was widespread outrage and condemnation that is leading to changes to that policy. But for Australians, the reality of regional processing means we don’t and can’t see what is going on.
“Let us be absolutely clear: a system that imprisons children in conditions that make them give up on life is nothing short of child abuse. We’ve been made to believe that we must put up with this abuse on the premise that it is essential for our border security. That is not true.
“I have no doubt decent Australians would be appalled to hear of the situation for children and would want our leaders to do the right thing.”
Ms Legena said the campaign called for a commitment from both sides of politics to bring the children to Australia or find a suitable country that welcomes them into a safe and supportive environment.
In line with Article 31 of the Refugee Convention, to which Australia is a signatory party, detention of asylum-seekers should always only be used as a last resort and for as short a time as possible.
Sign the petition: https://www.kidsoffnauru.com/