Saturday, February 24, 2007

Human Rights in Australia: Deal to send boat people packing

The SMH is reporting "AUSTRALIA is striking a deal with Indonesia for an even more radical version of John Howard's Pacific Solution - sending 85 Sri Lankan asylum seekers home via Indonesia in possible breach of international refugee conventions.

The asylum seekers, who were intercepted by the navy near Christmas Island on Wednesday, are set to be taken to Indonesia and then sent back to Sri Lanka after secret talks between the three countries in Jakarta yesterday. This means they would be sent home via Indonesia, which is not a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention. Australia would be free of any responsibility towards them, and the asylum seekers would almost certainly be robbed of any chance to lodge an asylum claim under international law.

Sri Lanka's ambassador to Indonesia, Janaka Perera, confirmed last night that Australian and Indonesian officials had told him the 83 men would be returned to Jakarta, then sent home. He expected the men to arrive in Sri Lanka within days.

"Sri Lanka's position is that they have travelled illegally to another country and they should be returned to Sri Lanka."

Both Australia and Indonesia had said they would assist with the repatriation, he said."

No surprises then. Acts of unmitigated bastardry will continue unabated whilst this government is in power. Given the previous deals cut with Indonesia on warehousing asylum seekers on Lombok, in the face of international law and convention, we can only expect worse to come.

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