Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Australia ends detention regime for asylum seekers

Almost seven years after Australia sent commandos onto the MV Tampa to block the Afghans migrants on board from reaching the mainland after the fishing vessel sank in international waters, the government has said it will now abandon it's controversial policy of jailing all asylum seekers.

Chris Evans, Immigration Minister of the centre-left Labour government, said detention in often-remote immigration jails would now be used only as a last resort. "Desperate people are not deterred by the threat of harsh detention. They are often fleeing much worse circumstances."

The ending of ex-prime minister John Howard's so-called "Pacific Solution", under which asylum seekers were sent to special detention centres in the Papua New Guinea island of Manus and the tiny Pacific state of Nauru, had been a pledge in last year's election.