Saturday April 8 2006 1:20pm WST
For Immediate Release
"The Justice and Customs Minister, Senator Chris Ellison, should be mercilessly hauled over the coals by the Australian Media, because nobody in the Howard Ministry will ever reprimand him over his continuous use to depict entry into Australian waters with the intent to seek asylum as something that's illegal," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said today.
"There is no Australian law that makes it "illegal" to enter Australia without a visa or without prior permission. That is the factuality, even for those who enter Australian waters with illegal intent, such as Indonesian fishermen."
"This being the fact, it is even more disgraceful that the Minister is happily using the term "illegal" - he has done this since the 2001 Federal election, just like the Prime Minister John Howard."
"Even more so, the use of the term "illegal" when discussing asylum seekers, is an outright scandal when it comes out of a Federal Minister who holds the portfolio of "Justice" - such a gross injustice, that it makes one sick," said spokesman Jack H Smit. "Asylum seekers sailing into Australian waters do so to exercise their explicitly stated right under the International Declaration of Human Rights."
Because Project SafeCom two years ago embarked on a successful campaign to exert pressure on the Australian Press Council which eventually led to the Press Council ruling, deeming it "incorrect reporting" to denote unannounced boat-arrivals who sought asylum, it is, and should be the ethical duty of Australian journalists to dispute the use of this terminology by the Minister."
The Minister will be interviewed this weekend - on The National Interest at midday on Sunday on ABC Radio National.
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]