The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC) is universally recognised regarding the welfare of children around the world.
The foundation of CROC sets out the basic rights of children and the obligations of governments to fulfil these rights. This sounds like a solid and understandable convention that needs to be upheld and implemented.
Refugee and asylum seeker children held in detention centres
However this is not the case regarding refugee and asylum seeker children held in detention centres. Children who end up fleeing their country to seek a better life are not always accompanied by their families.
In NSW the Immigration (Guardianship Children) (IGOC) Act 1946 (Cth) and Migration Act 1958 (Cth) (Migration Act) facilitate somewhat ambiguous domestic protection for unaccompanied/separated refugee and asylum seeker children.
In an Australian Journal of Family Law article the authors highlighted the need for special consideration for children who have ‘fled conditions of peril in hope that protection will be granted.’
Detaining children indefinitely is a grave human rights abuse
Despite the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and CROC prohibiting arbitrary detention, refugee and asylum seeker adults and children are detained in Australia. Recently, there has been mounting pressure from various groups within Australia regarding the detention of asylum seeker children – including advocacy organisations, political parties, the public and the media – due to the basic understanding within the community that detaining children indefinitely is a grave human rights abuse of a particularly vulnerable group.
Issue based on Morality: Babies Born in Detention Centres
Opinions about babies born in detention range from the idea that refugee and asylum seeker babies should be given bridging visas or seen as Australian citizens, to the notion that these babies should be classed as illegal maritime arrivals and subjected to the same offshore processing as their parents.
In a recent case heard by the High Court of Australia, an asylum seeker baby boy born in Brisbane was considered an “unauthorised maritime arrival”. The Judge in this case held that the baby was not able to claim refugee or asylum seeker status. In addition, the BBC reported that several lawyers said that ‘100 similar babies could now be sent to Nauru’ based upon the circumstances of this case. This case generated many for and against arguments and in turn emphasises the severity and deepening concerns surrounding babies who are born in detention centres.
This particular case stirred up extreme negative remarks on multiple social media platforms. Conversely support emerged from the wider public. These mixed emotions lead us to question whether these children born on Australian soil should be considered Australian citizens? Or should be given protection visas at the very least? Children born in detention continues to be a controversial moral and legal minefield.
Photo courtesy of The Guardian.