Stop Unlawful Detention of Migrant Children


Target: Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott

Goal: End detention of migrant children.

Australia’s system of mandatory immigrant detention is not only callous and inimical, but especially detrimental to migrant children. Inconsistent with international law, the country’s immigration detention structure fails children in multiple aspects, such as healthcare, education and mental well-being.

There are about 100+ children contained in detention in facilities such as Darwin and offshore Nauru, where education is infrequent, primary healthcare is poor, and mental health services are non-existent, among other faults. Migrant children are detained for long periods of time and, those that are separated from their families, share facilities with unrelated adults.

The long-term impacts of detention on children have been widely studies and recorded, including delays in mental and emotional development, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and memory loss. Self-harm and thoughts of suicide are also quite common amongst detained children.

Despite these facts and admonishment from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Australia continues to jail migrant children, which is a direct violation of child rights. While other countries, such as South Africa, Belgium and the United Kingdom provide alternatives to detention for migrant children, such as access to lawyers, regular contact with family members and education, Australia is the only country to impose mandatory and indefinite detention on immigrant children.

The detention of children because of their immigration status is heartless and unnecessary. Sign the petition to urge Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, to stop jailing migrant children.


Dear Prime Minister Abbott,

Immigrant children who find themselves in Australia risk callous abuse at the hands of the country’s parliamentary government. With no access to proper education, healthcare, or mental services, these children languish behind bars, despite the fact that they’ve committed no crime.

The long-term impacts of detention on children are extensive — depression, anxiety, developmental disorders and the like are common, as well as suicidal thoughts and self-harm. While other countries such as Belgium and Japan provide care for immigrant children, Australia remains the only country to impose mandatory and indefinite detention on migrant children.

Australia’s actions are in direct violation of children’s rights and, in the end, child rights are human rights, and these offenses should be taken seriously. Your country’s immigration policies should reflect that return to a child’s country is, oftentimes, not an option. Some examples include: intolerable violence, ongoing or recent natural disaster, armed conflict or war crimes and even familial abuse.

I urge you to stop jailing immigrant children and help these innocent youth by creating programs, providing assistance, and giving them opportunities to gain the life skills necessary to become successful adults.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: AJillani via Wikimedia Commons

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204 Signatures

  • Muhammad Kamal
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