Don’t use asylum seekers for political gain - ALA

27th Feb 2013

“The fact that one asylum seeker, out of tens of thousands, has been charged with a criminal offence should not lead to a further erosion of the already limited rights of asylum seekers in the community,” ALA criminal law spokesman, Greg Barns, said today.

Mr Barns was commenting on media reports of indecent assault charges being laid against a Sri Lankan asylum seeker following an incident at Macquarie University on February 21.

“It is not surprising given the law of averages that there would be an interaction between police and an asylum seeker at some point in time,” Mr Barns said.

“It should be noted that this person is entitled to presumption of innocence and his case should not be used by the ALP and Coalition to further diminish the rights of asylum seekers in Australia,” he said.

“The community resettlement of asylum seekers has been hugely successful over the past few years, with very few asylum seekers being charged with criminal offences.

"Asylum seekers already have enormous obstacles in their way when they come to Australia because of lack of access to services and very limited employment opportunities. We would urge both ALP and the Coalition not to use this case as a lightning rod for further draconian measures.

"We also remind politicians and the media that this man is entitled, as any person in our community, to the presumption of innocence and he should not be exposed to guilt by media or guilt through political comment,” Mr Barns said.

Tags: Human rights Asylum seekers and refugees