Thursday April 22, 2010 7:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"The proposed Anti-People Smuggling and Other Measures Bill 2010, currently under scrutiny by the Senate legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee is likely to become the first Australian legislation to be forced with major amendments under the Rudd government's new human rights and international convention compliance tests," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
The Senate Committee is scheduled to report on its findings about the Bill by May 11, a public hearing took place last week, and the Committee received 28 public submissions, many of them noting that the Bill incorrectly removes a central definition clause of the underpinning United Nations Smuggling Protocol, which defines smuggling as having occurred "to gain a material benefit".
"Project SafeCom's submission to the Senate Inquiry is very clear about this removal of the profit motive, but we suspect, and have been open, if not blunt, about this in our submission, that the real intent of the laws are likely to be an attempt to make it a crime subject to harsh imprisonment to arrive in Australia by boat to seek asylum," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"The laws should be seen as a rather brazen attempt to lock out refugees and asylum seekers who try to make it to safety in Australia as a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention."
"Yesterday's announcements made by the Attorney-General Robert McClelland, that the government has accepted that new laws now need to show compliance with international conventions Australia is a party to, will now force the laws -- if the government puts its promises into real action -- to be adjusted to be compliant with the directions given to signatory countries by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea, commonly known as the 'Smuggling Protocol'."
"This is the first test of the Rudd government's commitment to human rights and international convention compliance under yesterday's commitment given, but we are under no illusions that the government will do whatever it can to wriggle out of this commitment when the laws will come back to the House of Representatives following the Senate Inquiry report."
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
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