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September 25, 2012


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media reports that a Sri Lankan asylum seeker from Nauru is about to be returned to Sri Lanka has raised serious concerns that the Australian government is effectively coercing asylum seekers subject to off-shore processing to “voluntarily” return.

The Refugee Action Coalition is demanding that the Sri Lankan man is given access to lawyers when he lands back on Australian soil and that all asylum seekers threatened with removal to Nauru have access to lawyers and advocates to ensure that they fully understand their rights and they are not subject to pressure to agree to voluntary repatriation.

“We simply do not know what asylum seekers on Christmas Island or Nauru are being told about their rights or what will happen to them. There is no way asylum seekers can make an informed decision as long as they are being denied contact with lawyers or advocates who can give them independent advice.

“The threat of indefinite detention on Nauru may be being used to coerce asylum seekers to give up legitimate protection claims. Australia is already undermining the Refugee Convention by dumping asylum seekers on Nauru where there is no determination system in place.

“Asylum seekers in Australian detention centres subject to removal to Nauru are being denied lawyers to assist them. The government must ensure that the Sri Lankan man is given access to lawyers when he lands back on Australian soil. The situation in Sri Lanka for opponents of the Rajapaksa regime is too dangerous for the government to be playing with asylum seekers lives.

“Last week, we again saw the British High Court intervene to prevent the removal of asylum seekers from Britain to Sri Lanka because of the recognized risk to them of torture and mistreatment.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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