These ten demands represent ex-detainee RISE members’ campaign to address urgent issues affecting asylum seekers and refugees seeking protection from persecution. The demands identify the systemic changes that need to occur, in order to dismantle unjust laws and institutions that engage in and promote the abuse and criminalisation of our members.
1. WE DEMAND, the immediate end to detention of asylum seekers and refugees, not for 1 day, not for 30 days, not for 1 year, or any other length of time.
2. WE DEMAND, that all currently detained asylum seekers and refugees be immediately released into the community, and be given justice, freedom and proper humanitarian support without delay.
3. WE DEMAND, that no one should be forcibly deported or coerced to self-deport to a country in which they will face persecution, torture or death. If someone has been deported or forced to self-deport to danger, they should immediately be connected to an independent organisation, processed, and taken to a safe country. Those who have been harmed should be compensated along with their families. Compensation should also be given to families of those who have lost their lives after being deported or forced to self-deport to danger.
4. WE DEMAND, that for refugees seeking protection, countries should create safe passage by:
● Providing humanitarian coordination that ensures safety, protection and freedom of movement
● Providing proper rescue operations, for refugees and asylum seekers crossing borders by land and sea
● Ceasing to dump refugees and asylum seekers in locations where we are not given long-term protection.
5. WE DEMAND, that regardless of how asylum seekers arrive, they must be settled into the community. They must be granted freedom of movement and access to a just and humane asylum claim process. This should also include the provision of:
● Free medical and psychological care with comprehensive independent health checks and rehabilitation facilities
● Interpreters, communication facilities and appropriate community support networks
● Education and Training opportunities
● Work rights
● Legal aid to assist with asylum claims and applications for protection visas
● The guarantee that those accepted as refugees are given permanent protection visas
● Upholding the basic right to family and family reunion onshore and offshore.
6. WE DEMAND accountability and reparations from governmental and non-governmental agencies and individuals that have created and been a part of the asylum seeker/refugee detention, torture and abuse supply chain. Witnessing the ongoing criminalisation and torture of other refugees and asylum seekers in detention centres adds another layer of trauma which impacts on our mobility everyday – both physically and psychologically. Laws should be implemented to stop the detention of asylum seekers and refugees. We must have recognition and memorialisation of the criminal abuse faced by detainees and ex-detainees, as well as deaths in immigration detention centres. Furthermore, steps should be taken to provide additional community and welfare support such as specialist counselling, safety and well-being networks, employment, education and training assistance for ex-detainees in the community and their families. Families of asylum seekers and refugees who died in custody should also be given recognition, compensation and ongoing community and welfare support.
7. WE DEMAND, that the creation and implementation of all government and non-governmental refugee policies and laws is done in consultation with the refugee community itself, at both the local, regional, national and international level, for a more sustainable, durable, just and humane approach in providing protection and resettlement for asylum seekers and refugees.
8. WE DEMAND, that countries that cause forced displacement are stripped from their decision-making position in the global humanitarian sector. It is an irrefutable fact that the countries that supply the largest proportion of the world’s weapons and military power and consume the largest proportion of the world’s natural resources, are located mainly in Europe and North America. These countries also have a disproportionate amount of decision making power in the humanitarian sector and take in one of the smallest proportions of forcibly displaced immigrants in the world.
9. WE DEMAND, that there is fair distribution in the global responsibility to protect and resettle refugees. This includes an increase to the offshore humanitarian resettlement quota by more wealthy countries. There should be an assurance that this quota does not include the numbers of people who have family members who are already onshore. We condemn any individual, government or non-governmental organisation that uses a quota or any other policy or law that blocks refugees trying to reunite with their family; this violates the fundamental right to family that every human being has.
10. WE DEMAND, that our voices and the campaigns and initiatives we create for ourselves are brought to the forefront; that non-detainees desist from managing us and speaking on our behalf when proposing alternative suggestions to detention centres. Such proposals and recommendations must be made by detainees and ex-detainees only. WE SAY, the ONLY alternative to detention is NO DETENTION, with FREEDOM, JUSTICE, and proper humanitarian safeguards. As refugees and asylum seekers we have been exploited and criminalised for having survived persecution, torture and abuse; we refuse to apologise for being survivors of this abuse.