Wednesday September 12, 2007 2:00pm WST
For Immediate Release
"The news that the Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews, less than a week after promising the Sri Lankans on a hunger strike on Nauru an outcome of sorts this week, has completed their claims assessment - but with the clear proviso that 'they cannot come to Australia' - is a gross manipulation of their international rights, an undermining of the UN Refugee Convention, and in the context of the failed DUA Bill from last year, it should also be viewed as a blatant undermining of the Will of the Australian people," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said today in response to statements made by Kevin Andrews.
"First the Immigration Minister has kept ignoring their pleas; pleas that had increased in intensity since February this year, culminating on 2007 World Refugee Day on June 20, when the asylum seekers issued a public letter."
"Next the Minister, DIAC officials and IOM found they could suddenly act with swiftness when a hunger strike last week reached the attention of Australian and international media, by promising to give an outcome this week," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"While all this seemed great, the Minister can easily claim that they are all - bar one - refugees, if he, as he has done, throws in the caviat that none of them will be resettled in Australia, but that they will need to further wait on Nauru for an indeterminate time until another country can be found to accept them. This caviat makes the Minister's assessment a sly act of bastardry."
"These refugees are Australia's problem, and not the problem of the International community. Trying to once again barter with other nations, and trying to 'sell refugees' to other countries, to ask them once again take on Australia's problem, is a scandal, and it will be further eroding Australia's international standing."
"And, in the context of the fact that the government proposed last year to keep all future boat-arriving refugees in offshore facilities and then, upon completion of assessment of their claims, prohibit them from ever being settled in Australia, in the Designated Unauthorised Arrivals Bill 2006, which was stopped from being debated in The Senate because it had no chance of passing, Minister Andrews should be accused of undermining the Will of the Australian people, and of undermining the Will of Parliament," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]