Faith groups back alternatives to detention of migrants

By staff writers
June 19, 2006

Faith groups back alternatives to detention of migrants

-19/06/06

Muslim, Jewish, Protestant and Catholic leaders are among a wide range of people and organisations supporting an international coalition that challenges the global detention of migrants and refugees.

The International Coalition on the Detention of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants was launched at the Vatican this week with an inter-religious round table discussion, , reports Independent Catholic News.

The new network has been established by over 100 human rights groups from 36 countries worldwide. They aim to draw attention to the often dismal way migrants and refugees are treated in their host countries and to seek alternatives to imprisonment.

The round-table was addressed by Cardinal Martino of the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace, Mario Scialoja (President of the Italian Muslim League), and Alan Nacceche (President of the Jewish Bnai Brith Youth Organisation). It was moderated by Fr Lluis Magrina, the International Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service.

"After facing persecution and extreme poverty at home, refugees face further suffering when they are deprived of their freedom of movement and detained - simply for fleeing for their lives," said Fr Magrina.

He continued: "We have been visiting immigration detainees around the world for more than 20 years and our staff witness firsthand the physical and psychological harm caused to very vulnerable individuals, particularly children."

Mario Scialoja concurred. "Even in closed centres in many affluent countries, like Italy, the legal procedures governing detention are wholly inadequate and the conditions unacceptable. Such treatment is often illegal, but always immoral and degrading."

Alan Naccache said that in carrying out their role of managing migration flows, it was understandable that states should establish temporary detention centres.

"Nevertheless," he continued, "states should never forget their international obligations to refugees and other migrants. In particular, the arbitrary detention of refugees penalises human beings for seeking safety, and denies their common humanity."

"Arbitrary imprisonment poisons human society. It harms those who practice it as well as those who suffer it," said Cardinal Martino.

The Coalition found that the worst detention practices adopted by governments were being copied from others and politicians frequently justify their immigration detention policies on the grounds that another, often richer, country is operating a similar policy.

Jesuit Refugee Services, an important part of the coalition, works in over 50 countries in five continents around the world. It employs over 1,000 staff to meet the education, health, social and other needs of over 500,000 refugees and international displaced people.

It also provides legal and other services to migrants and refugees detained purely on the basis of their immigration status in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Its services are provided to refugees regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs.

The steering committee of the new network includes Amnesty International, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Jesuit Refugee Service, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, the World Council of Churches, and a number of national NGOs.

The international detention coalition is being launched worldwide on 20 June 2006, with events organised in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Kenya, South Africa, India, Australia, Lebanon, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Malta, Ireland, and Jamaica.

[Also on Ekklesia: Churches express solidarity with migrants and asylum seekers; Bishop attacks xenophobic bidding war over asylum and immigration; Catholic church publishes asylum seekers guide; European and US churches offer fresh support to immigrants; Catholics to celebrate migrant workers; Cardinal suggests UK amnesty for illegal immigrants; Pope urges Jesus-centred view of asylum seekers; UN and faith groups highlight harsh treatment of refugees; BNP exploit racist fears and 'Christian country' claims]

Faith groups back alternatives to detention of migrants

-19/06/06

Muslim, Jewish, Protestant and Catholic leaders are among a wide range of people and organisations supporting an international coalition that challenges the global detention of migrants and refugees.

The International Coalition on the Detention of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants was launched at the Vatican this week with an inter-religious round table discussion, , reports Independent Catholic News.

The new network has been established by over 100 human rights groups from 36 countries worldwide. They aim to draw attention to the often dismal way migrants and refugees are treated in their host countries and to seek alternatives to imprisonment.

The round-table was addressed by Cardinal Martino of the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace, Mario Scialoja (President of the Italian Muslim League), and Alan Nacceche (President of the Jewish Bnai Brith Youth Organisation). It was moderated by Fr Lluis Magrina, the International Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service.

"After facing persecution and extreme poverty at home, refugees face further suffering when they are deprived of their freedom of movement and detained - simply for fleeing for their lives," said Fr Magrina.

He continued: "We have been visiting immigration detainees around the world for more than 20 years and our staff witness firsthand the physical and psychological harm caused to very vulnerable individuals, particularly children."

Mario Scialoja concurred. "Even in closed centres in many affluent countries, like Italy, the legal procedures governing detention are wholly inadequate and the conditions unacceptable. Such treatment is often illegal, but always immoral and degrading."

Alan Naccache said that in carrying out their role of managing migration flows, it was understandable that states should establish temporary detention centres.

"Nevertheless," he continued, "states should never forget their international obligations to refugees and other migrants. In particular, the arbitrary detention of refugees penalises human beings for seeking safety, and denies their common humanity."

"Arbitrary imprisonment poisons human society. It harms those who practice it as well as those who suffer it," said Cardinal Martino.

The Coalition found that the worst detention practices adopted by governments were being copied from others and politicians frequently justify their immigration detention policies on the grounds that another, often richer, country is operating a similar policy.

Jesuit Refugee Services, an important part of the coalition, works in over 50 countries in five continents around the world. It employs over 1,000 staff to meet the education, health, social and other needs of over 500,000 refugees and international displaced people.

It also provides legal and other services to migrants and refugees detained purely on the basis of their immigration status in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Its services are provided to refugees regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs.

The steering committee of the new network includes Amnesty International, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Jesuit Refugee Service, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, the World Council of Churches, and a number of national NGOs.

The international detention coalition is being launched worldwide on 20 June 2006, with events organised in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Kenya, South Africa, India, Australia, Lebanon, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Malta, Ireland, and Jamaica.

[Also on Ekklesia: Churches express solidarity with migrants and asylum seekers; Bishop attacks xenophobic bidding war over asylum and immigration; Catholic church publishes asylum seekers guide; European and US churches offer fresh support to immigrants; Catholics to celebrate migrant workers; Cardinal suggests UK amnesty for illegal immigrants; Pope urges Jesus-centred view of asylum seekers; UN and faith groups highlight harsh treatment of refugees; BNP exploit racist fears and 'Christian country' claims]

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