Tuesday November 3, 2009 7:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"The Report of a visit to eleven places of detention in Indonesia, just released by lawyer and advocate Jessie Taylor - even in the context that similar claims have been expressed by several other advocates since 2003 - stands as a clear and grave series of indictments against organisations and countries that are mandated to uphold the highest of human rights standards in the region," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
** The Report, "Behind Australian Doors: Examining the Conditions of Detention of Asylum Seekers in Indonesia", is available for download from:
"We cannot do otherwise than point the finger of this indictment fairly and squarely at the following - and in this ranking of order as placed: (1) the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Indonesia, (2) the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Indonesia, (3) Australia as the only country that has signed the Refugee Convention and that funds operations of IOM and UNHCR in Indonesia, and (4) Indonesia - as a country that has an intent to become a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention and that strives to advance further in signing and ratifying other International Conventions," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"The office of UNHCR in Jakarta: No complaint about 'understaffing' holds for the organisation that sets for the entire world the highest standard of care and respect for refugees and asylum. UNHCR, going by this report, has failed to fully hear the stories of asylum seekers; it has dropped the best standard for the use of interpreters, swapping it for a seriously inferior service; it has dumped its own understaffing problems on refugees, whose case assessments have been endangered beyond acceptable levels."
"Project SafeCom dissents in the context of the current debacle with Taylor's Recommendation in the Report to increase funding for UNHCR so the backlog of assessments can take place in the Jakarta Office. Taylor clearly shows that UNHCR in Jakarta cannot be trusted to do the right thing, and Australia, as the only country that has signed the UN Convention, needs to step into the breech and send a rescue mission to Indonesia so the asylum seekers and registered refugees can be flown to Australia."
"Australia takes 180,000 migrants per year, and there will be none to little impact on our population if we show what we ought to show in the region by taking a few thousand refugees off the total annual migrant intake quota, starting immediately."
"Second, IOM, the United Nations' "international work horse", has shown in Indonesia to have a callous disregard for the sanctity of asylum, and it has developed a corruption of its own sacred mandate, that was formulated to function as a corrolary to the UN Convention for the Status of Refugees, and it should be decisively kicked off to one side, so the way to safety can be opened for the thousands who are in effect being tortured in Indonesia," Mr Smit said.
"Third, Australia is gravely indicted in this enormous human drama, because, regardless of all the spin and niceties around the "Bali Process" and "Lombok Treaty" of regional cooperation, Australia has brazenly allowed this situation to develop in Indonesia, and happily so, because it kept the asylum seekers away from itself. The miserly Annual Resettlement quotas cited by Taylor are the clearest indicator of the callousness of Australia towards the plight of those stuck in Indonesia."
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]