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August 15, 2012

LABOR’S SHAME: OFF-SHORE PROCESSING LEGISLATION RE-OPENS A HELL-HOLE

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

“The passing of off-shore processing legislation allowing asylum seekers to be expelled to Nauru and Manus Island will go down as a day of shame in Australia’s history,” said Ian Rintoul spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The legislation allows for even greater mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees than was the case under Howard’s Pacific Solution. The government is turning Nauru into a neo-colonial island prison which will condemn recognized refugees to indefinite detention.

“While the government continues to demonise people-smugglers, it will now be engaged in people trafficking on a grander scale. The same navy ships that the government will use to take asylum seekers thousands of kilometers to Nauru could be used to bring asylum seekers safely from Indonesia to Australia. But the government is not really interested in saving lives.

“The government is expecting Nauru and PNG to administer a policy that will violate the Refugee Convention and would be unacceptable and unlawful on Australian territory. Julia Gillard wants to keep them as far away from scrutiny as possible.

“Under Howard, asylum seekers, many of them unaccompanied minors, were coerced to return to danger in Afghanistan. Last time, Nauru collapsed under its own contradictions – botched processing, hunger strikes, dengue fever, and mental breakdown. The lack of reliable water and electricity, the indefinite detention of innocent people will create intolerable conditions on Nauru. Australia will again be the international refugee pariah it was under Howard.

“The Labor government has surrendered control over its refugee policy to the Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party. Not only will Gillard’s Pacific Solution not stop the boats, it won’t stop Labor’s slide in the opinion polls either.

“The government’s refusal to accept Greens MP Adam Bandt’s amendment to limit incarceration on Nauru to one year already shows that the government is picking apart the Exert Panel’s recommendations and is only committed to deterrence.

“The government could have given an undertaking to process and resettle an expanded number of refugees from Indonesia, and those from Nauru, within a year, but it has turned its back on the one recommendation that could make a difference to refugee lives.

“Around 4000 UNHCR refugees and registered asylum seekers are waiting in Indonesia to hear what the Australian government has to say to them.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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