Global award recognises our impact, and our Government’s cruelty

Global award recognises our impact, and our Government’s cruelty

A message from Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy of the Human Rights Law Centre to our supporters.

Right now around the world we can see that fear and anxiety are on the rise. Sadly, so too is the political willingness to exploit it. It is in precisely these times – in precisely this sort of global climate - that we must hold on to our moral compass the tightest.

Last week I was in Ottawa, Canada, to receive the inaugural Global Pluralism Award for the Human Rights Law Centre’s work defending the rights of refugees and people seeking asylum.

The award recognises the impact we have achieved so far, but it also recognises the gravity of the injustice we must continue to fight against.

For four and a half years our Government’s refugee policies have steadily destroyed the lives of innocent people. Even after four and a half years – four and a half years filled with fear and violence and suffering and death - there are still 2000 men, women and children trapped in a painful limbo on Nauru and Manus Island.

These are innocent human beings. They deserve to be treated with decency and respect and to have the chance to rebuild their lives in freedom and safety. But instead our Government is choosing cruelty.

Whatever the policy challenge, destroying the lives of innocent people is never the answer.

Also presented with inaugural awards were Leyner Palacios Asprilla from Bojaya, Columbia and Alice Wairimu Nderitu from Kenya – two extraordinary individuals doing courageous and important work.

That an independent jury of world leaders singled out our Government’s cruelty to refugees, together with a brutal massacre in Columbia and electoral violence in Africa, reflects the degree of global concern at how far Australia has strayed from our moral compass and the insidiousness of the threat to basic human decency it poses.

This award, and the rising tide of global condemnation it reflects, shows that the world is watching. It shows that the international community is speaking out. And that is exactly what we must continue to do until every until every single man on Manus, and every single family and child on Nauru, finally gets the freedom and the safety that they deserve.

So thank you to everyone who supports our work. It is more important now than ever.

Daniel Webb
Director of Legal Advocacy
Human Rights Law Centre