Tuesday November 18, 2008 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"If the remarks made by the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Department during last weekend are reported correctly by Agence France Presse (see transcript below), then they should invoke Australia's obligations as a signatory to the United Convention for the Status of Refugees," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"Indonesia is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, so no obligations under this agreement apply to our neighbours," spokesman Jack H Smit said, "but this issue is a great opportunity for Australia's Immigration Minister to send a delegation to Sumbawa and treat the 'assumed asylum seekers' with all the rights they should be accorded with, and, in accordance with our obligations, show that the Rudd government means business of decency, when it comes to assisting those who intend to seek asylum in Australia.
"Immigration Minister Chris Evans has repeatedly 'barked' loudly about the dangers of allowing asylum seekers to cross the waters from Indonesia, in an effort to keep repelling asylum seekers who sail to Australia to ask for our help."
"While there is nothing, absolutely noting, illegal about sailing to Australia to seek asylum, Chris Evans now needs to show that there is a great deal of decency in the Lombok agreement signed between Australia and Indonesia, which targets those who intend to make a boat voyage to Australia."
"If Chris Evans wants to stop people from sailing to Australia, then he needs to show decisive, efficient, and professional action 'at source' in Indonesia, and provide a refugee assessment for the Iraqis. During the Howard years, we've been stuck for too long with a policy that left thousands of asylum seekers trying to reach Australia stranded in several Indonesian locations," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
40 Iraqi migrants caught stranded 'en route to Aust'
ABC ONLINE NEWS
Posted Sat Nov 15, 2008 5:50pm AEDT
Forty Iraqi migrants are being questioned by Indonesian authorities after being found stranded on a remote island on their way to Australia, police said.
The Iraqis, including nine children, were picked up by police on Tuesday off southern Sumbawa island and are being fed and housed at police headquarters in the nearby town of Dompu, local police chief Giri Basuki said.
"We found them on a small island, they were probably suffering from engine trouble," Mr Basuki said.
"They said they were heading to Australia to find work," he said.
However, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said it was likely the Iraqis intended to seek asylum on reaching Australia.
"They are still being investigated and it seems asylum is the case," Teuku Faizasyah said in a mobile phone text message.
Indonesia is a key staging point for asylum seekers headed to Australia from Asia and the Middle East, although only a small number of people attempt the risky boat journey every year.