Asylum seekers in WA must be offered protections of Aus law - ALA

15th Apr 2013

The Australian Lawyers Alliance is concerned that the rights of a boatload of Sri Lankan men, women and children who reached WA on Tuesday are being ignored as Australia continues to flout its international obligations to asylum seekers.

The ALA was referring to the treatment of the 66 people who, having arrived at Geraldton, will now be taken to Christmas Island before having an opportunity to have their claims for asylum heard.

“These asylum seekers have clear-cut rights to apply for refugee protection and to have their claims duly processed under the ordinary protections of Australian law,” Australian Lawyers Alliance National President, Tony Kerin, said today.

“They also have a right to access legal help so that they can understand their rights and be confident that their claims are being processed correctly,” Mr Kerin said.

“Any move to deny due process is a most serious violation of their rights and risks endangering the lives of these men, women and children,” he said.

Mr Kerin said it was increasingly concerning that politicians were using inflammatory language in a bid to tap into the fears of voters and win their electoral support in an election year at the expense of such vulnerable people’s fundamental rights

“Words, such as that of the Opposition immigration spokesman in relation to the issue, stating that the west coast of Australia is now effectively ‘open game' for people smugglers are not helpful,” Mr Kerin said.

“It is important that we as a nation don’t forget our humanity. These people have been through a huge ordeal just to reach our shores. To then put these people on a plane for Christmas Island, which is already overcrowded, is only exacerbating their ordeal and is totally unnecessary,” Mr Kerin said.

Tags: Human rights Western Australia Asylum seekers and refugees People smuggling