Thursday April 20 2006 8:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"Australia runs the risk of becoming a world leader in the dark sense with its proposed changes which intend to ban all boat arrivals from processing and resettlement within Australian territories," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"Following the 'success' of Australia in warehousing refugees on Manus Island and Nauru, several European countries have attempted to propose 'external processing' by proposing to establish camps in countries other than their own, and Australia should share a considerable degree of blame in its use of the negative rhetoric of labelling refugees as 'economic migrants' and 'illegals'.
"This concerning trend in countries that have signed the UN Convention was confirmed in the UNHCR Report "The State of the World's Refugees: Human Displacement in the New Millennium", released yesterday.
"The legislation proposed by the Immigration Minister should not proceed, as it is a direct attack on Australia's obligations under the UN Convention for the Status of Refugees," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"Project SafeCom has sent an urgent alert to the thousands of suppporters in its database, asking them to contact Liberal and National party MP's and Senators in an effort to break a consensus in government and encourage Parliamentarians to cross the floor and vote against this legislation. We cannot see how any amendments would bring this legislation in line with Convention minima."
"Asylum seekers who seek Australia's help are to be processed in Australia and on completion of that assessment, resettled as refugees in Australia. Discrimination of boat arrivals and treating them because of their mode of arrival in punitive ways, is especially shameful in the context, that saw most of our own ancestors also arriving as boatpeople, where it even could be argued that they also arrived 'unlawfully' in Australia - whether that was as free settlers or as convicts on ships."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]