Sunday March 15, 2009 3:00pm WST
For Immediate Release
"The Minister for Home Affairs, Bob Debus MP, needs some serious training and instruction into the definition of people smuggling, after his disgraceful illusory language around the arrival this weekend of a boat with 54 asylum seekers, reportedly from Afghanistan," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this afternoon.
"The United Nations People Smuggling Convention was designed to catch rackets of people traffickers, who transport women as slaves for prostitution to other countries, and who transport women, men and children to countries for illegal labor: the Convention seeks to stem the horrors of the 21st century slave trade, and it has not been designed to stop people being helpful in providing transport and bring asylum seekers to Convention countries," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"Bob Debus joins the ranks of many Ministers in both major parties, starting with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Immigration Minister Chris Evans, who deliberately keep untruths going in their media statements around the arrival of asylum seekers by boats to our shores."
"Just a few weeks ago we condemned an impoverished Indonesian fisherman to a West Australian jail for years, just because he made five hundred bucks for sailing people to safety."
"Australia's implementation of the UN Smuggling Convention is a disgrace, and we need to change these laws."
"If you cannot use airlines or international coach lines or boat cruises or intercontinental train transport, because you've had to destroy your identity documents because you're running away from your country in fear of persecution, you need to use "inferior transport services" to reach your only true destination: a decent UN Refugee Convention country."
"Minister Debus stands condemned for his manipulation of the Australian public today."
"It is not illegal to come to our shores to seek asylum, and it's a disgrace, a manipulation, an untruth and a fallacy to call those who help asylum seekers to come here people smugglers and jail them," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]