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January 17, 2011


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney


Media release, January 17, 2011

Refugee groups today expressed their disappointment with the MOU on migration and humanitarian cooperation signed with the Afghan government and the UNHCR.

“This agreement is not worth the paper it is written on. There is no way that such an agreement can guarantee the safety of any asylum seekers returned to Kabul. It is an agreement with an illegitimate and corrupt government propped up by the Australian and Nato forces – a government that is in discussion with representatives of the Taliban, that have been the historic persecutors of the Hazara minority,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“All the current country information indicates that the security situation has deteriorated in Afghanistan and that Hazaras and other are not safe even in Kabul. A resettlement compound of Hazaras in Kabul would be a priority target for political and religious fundamentalists.

“The Australian government should be securing human rights for asylum seekers, not undermining them, in Afghanistan or Australia. The serious deficiencies in off-shore processing have not been corrected. There should be one determination process for all asylum seekers.

“Without confidence in the present off-shore refugee determination process, there can be no confidence in the outcomes of that process. Off-shore processing remains susceptible to political manipulation as can be seen by the increased rates of rejection of Afghan and other asylum seekers.

“The government has already reneged on one commitment of the agreement. Section 3(c) of the MOU refers to an ‘independent merits review’ for Afghan asylum seekers but the recent announcement of the government has removed merits review appeals from the determination process.

“There is no adequate monitoring process in the MOU to ensure the safety of anyone returning to Afghanistan. Too many mistakes have been made in the past with the Australian government returning asylum seekers to danger and death.

“Rather than agreements to push ‘involuntary removals’, the government should legislate to establish complementary protection for asylum seekers. This could provide a legislative protection for humanitarian protection that is presently being denied. Minister Chris Bowen promised the legislation before Christmas 2009. We are still waiting.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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