Canberra's UNHCR Representative undermines "duty to protect" in Malaysian deal

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Canberra's UNHCR Representative undermines "duty to protect" in Malaysian deal

Media Release
Friday June 10, 2011 9:30pm WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

"The fact that multiple documents have been leaked to ABC Lateline in the last few weeks should be cause for Australia's Regional Representative Richard Towle to consider that there's a serious problem in his organisation now that it produces whistleblowers," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.

"Whistleblowers in organisations anywhere represent the canary in the cage," spokesman Jack H Smit said. "Mr Towle has been less than vigorous over Immigration Minister Chris Bowen's stubborn plans to "deport" asylum seekers to Malaysia, brazenly in defiance of the United Nations Refugee Convention's directives to Member States, which places, as also reflected in International Law, direct and unquestionable obligations on Australia to assess their cases and not expel them as a form of punishment based on the manner of arrival, let alone in an attempt to deter other asylum seekers from sailing to Australia."

"We now have a situation where Mr Towle, who represents the UN Refugee Convention above all else, is in bed with the Australian government to such an extent, that it is left to Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to blast Australia on her recent visit to Australia, while Richard Towle hides under a rock to shelter from her blast," Mr Smit said.

"It may look nice on the list of achievements for Mr Towle to soon be able to say that he "was instrumental" in the formation of a regional processing arrangement while he was the Regional Representative in Canberra, but it will be on the record if he cowers away like a rat in a sewer from the duty to protect asylum seekers, who, following Prime Minister Gillard's comments that "they will go back to the queue in Malaysia" will be dumped in limbo in an inhumane foreign nation because the Gillard government is faced with electoral disaster because its shonky handling of asylum seekers raises the ire of the electorate."

"Mr Towle needs to come clean and condemn Chris Bowen's stubbornness around the plans to sacrifice 800 or even more asylum seekers who have recently sailed to Australia on the altar of Labor's shonky politics around maritime arrivals. He needs to unequivocally state that the planned deportation of these asylum seekers is in breach of the UN Refugee Convention and in breach of International Law."

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]

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