ALA welcomes panel recommendation to increase asylum seeker intake

13th Aug 2012

The Australian Lawyers Alliance today welcomed an expert panel decision to increase the intake of asylum seekers into Australia, but is concerned about a recommendation for offshore processing in countries that can not guarantee the health and welfare of asylum seekers.

“A mature approach needs to be adopted by Australia that recognises the very real trauma experienced by asylum seekers – trauma that would make people risk their lives at sea rather than re-encounter the horrors that forced them to seek asylum,” ALA National President Tony Kerin said.

“And when it comes to the issue of mandatory sentencing, it must also be recognised that if people are going to risk their lives on leaky boats at sea as people smugglers, no mandatory prison sentence is going to deter them.

"Rather, the government should be looking at the forces at play in the region that are contributing to an increase in asylum seekers and resulting in people being duped or enticed into people smuggling to feed their families.

"Decimation to Indonesian fishing grounds following the 2009 Montara oil spill as well as the 2006 Java earthquake have both contributed to the number of people being caught up in people smuggling operations in order to put food on the family table,” Mr Kerin said.

Mr Kerin said Australia needed to continue to work with governments to deter people from dangerous sea voyages, but the best way to do this was with an holistic approach involving its south-east Asian island nations.

Tags: Human rights Asylum seekers and refugees mandatory sentencing