Australian Government Rejects Human Rights Charter | World Politics | Forum

A A A
Avatar

Please consider registering
guest

sp_LogInOut Log In sp_Registration Register

Register | Lost password?
Advanced Search

— Forum Scope —






— Match —





— Forum Options —





Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

sp_Feed Topic RSS sp_TopicIcon
Australian Government Rejects Human Rights Charter
May 24, 2010
11:07 pm
Avatar
Aquarian
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 779
Member Since:
April 9, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Australian government rejects human rights charter
By Mike Head
24 May 2010

Australia will remain one of the few countries in the world not to have a formal human rights charter after the Rudd government last month rejected last September’s recommendation of its own national consultation committee, for a Human Rights Act.

More than two and a half years after being elected—promising to consider a charter—the government has killed off any notion of limiting official power to override basic legal and democratic rights. A further review of the issue has been put off until 2014.

The decision has dismayed those who were led to believe that the election of a Labor government in 2007 would mean an end to the type of abuses that saw innocent men such as Dr Mohammed Haneef, Mamdouh Habib, David Hicks and Izhar ul-Haque framed-up on terrorism charges, US anti-war activist Scott Parkin deported and refugees detained indefinitely on remote islands.

The legislation proposed by the committee would have been toothless—it would not have entrenched any legal or democratic rights by amending Australia’s constitution, nor would it have given the courts the power to invalidate government measures that violated human rights. Instead, the High Court, Australia’s supreme court, would only have been able to issue advisory opinions of incompatibility with certain human rights, which the government would have been free to ignore.

The Labor government’s rejection of even that token framework—a decision that was immediately backed by the Liberal-National opposition and most media outlets—underscores the lack of any support in ruling circles for basic political and civil rights. An Australian editorial declared: “Kevin Rudd has acted decisively in closing the door on an Australian bill of rights for at least a generation. This is the right call.” Paul Kelly, the newspaper’s editor-at-large, praised the prime minister for “dismissing the totemic symbolism of a human rights act”.

Attorney General Robert McClelland gave no reason for the decision, except to say that the government preferred to proceed on human rights in a way that “unites rather than divides our community”. In fact, the most vehement opposition to a charter came from within the Labor Party, spearheaded by former New South Wales Premier Bob Carr. During his decade in office from 1995 to 2005, Carr instituted a series of “law and order” measures, handing unprecedented powers to the police, boosting the state’s jail population to record levels and backing the introduction of matching federal and state “anti-terrorism” legislation.

Carr and other Labor figures demagogically claimed that any human rights law would hand power to “unelected” judges and override parliamentary sovereignty. In reality, their objections are to any restriction, however perfunctory, on the increasing tendency of executive governments to ram police-state measures through parliament, under the false pretence of protecting ordinary people from crime and terrorism.

For the Rudd government, its pledge to address human rights concerns was one of a number of symbolic gestures, such as the parliamentary apology to the indigenous “Stolen Generations,” the signing of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, and what it claimed would be “more humane” treatment of asylum seekers, designed to give the appearance of redressing the most reactionary features of the previous Howard government.

When the government appointed its committee in December 2008, McClelland claimed that it would give Australians “a chance to have their say” and encourage “a broad range of options” on protecting human rights. Yet, the terms of reference specifically directed the committee not to consider a “constitutionally entrenched bill of rights”. What was ruled out in advance was any genuine public debate that would in any way challenge the deeply anti-democratic character of the 1901 Australian constitution, which contains no bill of rights.

Unlike the US Constitution, whose Bill of Rights arose from the revolutionary overthrow of British tyranny, the Australian document was not the result of any mass social movement. Instead, it was adopted as a British Act of Parliament after being drafted by assemblies of colonial politicians. Meeting in the wake of major industrial strikes that raised the spectre of the working class, the constitutional convention delegates not only rejected calls for a US-style bill of rights. They also retained the vague “reserve powers” of the monarchy to dismiss elected governments in times of political crisis—powers that were used to oust the Whitlam government in 1975.

The constitution does not even guarantee the right to vote. Some property qualifications were initially maintained, along with state-based disqualifications of Aboriginal people. The only rights mentioned in the constitution relate to religious freedom, jury trials for indictable offences and compensation for property acquired by government. During the 1990s, the courts declared there was an implied constitutional right to freedom of political communication, but said it could be overridden by legislation in many circumstances.

The committee’s nine-month human rights “consultation,” involving submissions and public hearings, sought to promote the illusion that certain basic rights could be protected even as the government maintains the draconian terrorism laws, further boosts the security and intelligence agencies and reinforces the detention of refugees without any legally-enforceable appeal rights.

Another significant political purpose of presenting human rights recommendations was, in the words of the committee’s report, to “bolster Australia’s credibility when commenting on human rights abuses in other jurisdictions”. A related aim was to reduce the number of human rights cases taken against Australia to international bodies. These considerations of global image are particularly important to the political establishment where military interventions are being continued, in the name of democracy and human rights, to secure the strategic interests of Australian capitalism in Afghanistan, Iraq, East Timor and Solomon Islands.

To chair its committee, the government selected Father Frank Brennan, a Catholic priest and law professor. Another appointee was former Australian Federal Police chief Mick Palmer. None of the committee’s recommendations limited the operation of the terrorism laws, the police powers or the refugee provisions.

While it ultimately recommended a Human Rights Act, the committee proposed the weakest possible form—a so-called “dialogue” model with no powers given to judges except to refer any legislative breach of human rights back to the government for consideration. Moreover, like the charters already adopted in the state of Victoria in 2006 and the Australian Capital Territory in 2004, the Act would have contained a derogation clause permitting the government to set “reasonable limits” on rights “that can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”. Such provisions are an open door for overriding rights in a host of circumstances, including for “national security” and “emergencies”.

The Brennan committee contained a number of fallback positions to make it easier politically for the government to reject any human rights charter. These options included laws requiring judges to interpret all legislation in the light of internationally-recognised human rights, and to instruct official decision makers to take such rights into account. But the government dismissed even these palliatives. Instead it adopted two other proposed sops, to stipulate that federal legislation include non-binding statements of compatibility with human rights, and to establish a parliamentary human rights committee to scrutinise legislation.

McClelland revealed the cosmetic character of these provisions when he said they would assist ministers to “contextualise human rights considerations, and where appropriate, justify restrictions or limitations on rights”. He also limited the human rights criteria to seven international conventions that Australia has previously signed, on civil and political rights, racial discrimination, economic, social and cultural rights, torture, women, children and disabilities. Noticeably, the list does not include the 1951 Refugee Convention, which the government recently flouted by suspending all asylum applications from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

To justify the Rudd government’s decision, media commentators generally suggested that a Human Rights Act would have been unpopular. In the words of the Australian’s legal affairs editor Chris Merritt, Labor wanted to “remove a potential election issue”. But the Brennan committee reported widespread concerns about the deepening assault on basic rights, particularly in the ongoing Northern Territory intervention—which has singled out Aboriginal people for discriminatory welfare, land and policing measures—the treatment of asylum seekers and the national security legislation. A random telephone survey commissioned by the committee recorded 57 percent support for a Human Rights Act, with 14 percent opposed and 30 percent undecided. Nine of out 10 respondents supported the wider proposition: “Parliament to pay attention to human rights when making laws”.

The Rudd government’s dismissal of these sentiments is a warning of its determination to retain an open hand to violate fundamental rights as it continues to bolster the powers and resources of the police, intelligence and military agencies. Its response must be seen in the context of the deepening global economic crisis. As the protests in Greece demonstrate, the austerity measures increasingly being imposed by governments around the world to impose the burden of the massive debts left by the financial meltdown will inevitably produce immense social and political unrest.

Governments internationally are preparing to meet this discontent with repressive measures. Basic democratic rights can be secured only by building a mass socialist movement to overturn the capitalist order, abolish the security-intelligence apparatus and establish genuine forms of democratic participation in, and control, over all aspects of economic and social life.

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-na ... -stv8.html

The Few assume to be the deputies, but they are often only the despoilers of the Many.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

May 25, 2010
4:16 pm
Avatar
rath
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 4297
Member Since:
April 9, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Australian government rejects human rights charter

🙄

However ... There are a number of laws that have been enacted to protect human rights since the year 1788.

And the Constitution of Australia has been found to contain certain implied rights by the High Court.

Australian Human Rights Commission
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (previously known as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission) is a national independent statutory body of the Australian government. It has responsibility for the investigation of alleged infringements under Australia’s anti-discrimination legislation.

Matters that can be investigated by the Commission include "discrimination on the grounds of race, colour or ethnic origin, racial vilification, sex, sexual harassment, marital status, pregnancy, or disability."

Universal suffrage
Women's suffrage!

South Australia was one of the first jurisdictions in the world to grant women suffrage when it allowed women to vote and to stand for Parliament in 1894. The passage of the Commonwealth Franchise Act gave women the right to vote at the federal level in 1902. The dates for the other states of Australia are summarised below.

Woman's Right to Vote & Right to stand for Parliament

South Australia 1894 1894
Western Australia 1899 1920
Australia (Commonwealth) 1902 1902
New South Wales 1902 1918
Tasmania 1903 1921
Queensland 1905 1915
Victoria 1908 1923

Woman suffrage in the United States was achieved gradually, at state and local levels, during the 19th Century and early 20th Century, culminating in 1920 with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provided: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

The secret ballot is a voting method in which a voter's choices in an election or a referendum are confidential. The key aim is to ensure the voter records a sincere choice by forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation or bribery.

The system is one means of achieving the goal of political privacy. Secret ballots are suitable for many different voting systems.

The most basic form may be blank pieces of paper, upon which each voter writes only their choice. Without revealing their vote to anyone, the voters place the ballots into a sealed box, which is emptied later for counting.

One of the most common forms in the modern world provides for pre-printed ballot papers with the name of the candidates or questions and respective checkboxes. Provisions are made at the polling place for the voter to record their preferences in secret. The ballots are specifically designed to eliminate bias and to prevent anyone from linking voter to ballot.

This system is also known as the Australian ballot, because it originated in Australia during the 1850s. In the United States, it is also known as the Massachusetts ballot since Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to use the Australian secret ballot system.

A History of the Australian Ballot System in the United States

The purpose of this dissertation is to trace the introduction and development of the Australian ballot system in the United States of America.

The first portion of the thesis discusses the demand for reform which grew out of the evils of the unofficial ballot. The unofficial ballot developed from the use of voting papers by certain American colonies, in particular New England; and it gradually superseded the viva voce method. This plan proved very defective, and in the period of corruption following the Civil War it was made the instrument of great abuse.

This led to the introduction of the Australian system, which provided a secret ballot, furnished by the state and supplied to the electors on the day of election within the polling-place, and marked in secret by the electors. The second portion of the thesis treats in detail the development and present status of the Australian ballot in the United States. The third portion of the thesis discusses the attitude which the courts have taken toward the secret ballot. In Appendix A is printed the text of the original South Australian Ballot Act, the text of which is not in print in any of the large libraries of the United States.

This dissertation takes up a study of the ballots used in the election of public officers only. Primary ballots are not included.

The material used has been primarily the session laws, digests, and codes of the states, and the decisions of the courts, although newspapers and periodicals and the debates of constitutional conventions were also employed. A bibliography covering the field is given in Appendix B.

The writer wishes to acknowledge the assistance given by Professor Charles E. Merriam and Professor Ernst Freund of the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago, and by Dean John H. Wigmore of Northwestern University Law School.

Chapter II: The Origin of the Australian Ballot System and its Introduction into the United States

1. The Origin of the Australian Ballot
2. Its Introduction into the United States
3. The Arguments For and Against the Australian Ballot
Chapter III: The Development of the Australian Ballot in the United States

Introductory
1. The Printing and Distribution of the Ballots
2. The Procedure for Placing the Names of Candidates on the Ballot
3. Provisions for Publicity and Instruction of Voters
4. The Arrangement of the Polling-Place
Chapter IV: The Form of the Ballot

1. The Different Types of Ballots in the United States
2. The Office-Group versus the Party-Column Ballot
3. Present Status of the Form of the Ballot
Chapter V: The Manner of Voting; Penal Sanctions

1. Obtaining the Ballot
2. Marking the Ballots
3. Assisting the Voters
4. Penal Sanctions
Chapter VI: The Attitude of the Courts toward the Australian Ballot

1. The Constitutionality of the Australian Ballot
2. The Policy of the Courts in Interpreting the Ballot Laws
Chahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_ballotpter" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; VII: Summary and Conclusion

Appendix A

The Text of the Original Australian Ballot Act

June 8, 2010
3:47 am
Avatar
Aquarian
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 779
Member Since:
April 9, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

This charter apparently, while symbolic, would have been extended to the asylum-seekers. I know you do not call them "real immigrants", but I don't know how you can make that distinction especially when it deals with the lives of human beings. Australia routinely detains those asylum-seekers in far-away places (extrajudicially) with little to no record of what is going on with them. Many of them are separated from family members, all, I believe like in the U.S., to propagate nationalist, racist and misguided protectionist measures. I agree with the Australian Socialist Alliance Party when they say that Australia's refusal to sign and ratify the UN 1951 Convention Relating the Status of Refugees is morally wrong. Australia should CEASE their support of the concentration camps they have in Sri Lanka for the Tamil-speaking asylum-seeking refugees immediately!

Australia, as a wealthy and developed country which has exploited its poorer neighbors, should immediately develop a program to settle tens of thousands of asylum seekers and take a leading role in helping reduce the misery of the world’s millions of refugees, most of whom are trying to survive in desperate conditions in refugee camps in some of the world's poorest countries.

http://links.org.au/node/1336

The Few assume to be the deputies, but they are often only the despoilers of the Many.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

June 21, 2010
8:50 pm
Avatar
rath
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 4297
Member Since:
April 9, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

"Aquarian" wrote: This charter apparently, while symbolic, would have been extended to the asylum-seekers. I know you do not call them "real immigrants", but I don't know how you can make that distinction especially when it deals with the lives of human beings. Australia routinely detains those asylum-seekers in far-away places (extrajudicially) with little to no record of what is going on with them. Many of them are separated from family members, all, I believe like in the U.S., to propagate nationalist, racist and misguided protectionist measures. I agree with the Australian Socialist Alliance Party when they say that Australia's refusal to sign and ratify the UN 1951 Convention Relating the Status of Refugees is morally wrong. Australia should CEASE their support of the concentration camps they have in Sri Lanka for the Tamil-speaking asylum-seeking refugees immediately!

Australia, as a wealthy and developed country which has exploited its poorer neighbors, should immediately develop a program to settle tens of thousands of asylum seekers and take a leading role in helping reduce the misery of the world’s millions of refugees, most of whom are trying to survive in desperate conditions in refugee camps in some of the world's poorest countries.

http://links.org.au/node/1336

no see ...... your wrong.

June 21, 2010
8:55 pm
Avatar
rath
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 4297
Member Since:
April 9, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

"Aquarian" wrote: This charter apparently, while symbolic, would have been extended to the asylum-seekers. I know you do not call them "real immigrants", but I don't know how you can make that distinction especially when it deals with the lives of human beings.

It all depends how you define refugee i guess.

What would YOU, call / define as a refugee then.

lets start there shall we.

June 22, 2010
5:37 pm
Avatar
Aquarian
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 779
Member Since:
April 9, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Anyone who seeks international protection/fleeing from economic/social despotism, etc. The Australian Government even has the UN's definition on their government site:

'An asylum seeker is an individual who is seeking international protection. In countries with individualized procedures, an asylum seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which he or she submitted it. Not every asylum seeker will ultimately be recognised as a refugee, but every refugee is initially an asylum seeker.'
(United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Master Glossary of Terms, June 2006)

http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheet ... stance.htm

Like the Tamils who have been brutalized, raped and murdered by Sri Lankan paramilitary forces:
http://www.ajustaustralia.com/informati ... kits&id=45

"A Sri Lankan naval crackdown on refugees attempting the short boat trip to India, and torrid conditions in Indian refugee camps, have forced many Tamils fleeing persecution to seek asylum in more distant nations such as Australia.??
...Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies at the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research and a commentator on Sri Lanka, said ... it was now "far more dangerous to try to reach India than Southeast Asia".
"Firstly more than 100,000 refugees from Sri Lanka are living in camps in Tamil Nadu and, secondly, the Sri Lankan navy has been intercepting boats trying to cross the Palk Strait to India," Professor Chellaney said.? "In the name of fighting remnant Tamil Tigers they attack boats of refugees; they have arrested people and sunk boats. That's the reason why you're getting boatpeople through Indonesia and other points; otherwise these guys would all be coming to India."

Inside the broken land
Excerpt from article by Matt Wade, The Age, 13/11/2009, on the challenges facing displaced Tamils
Click here to read the full article

"After enduring a vicious war, the loss of a child and six months in a tent, Nithia Rubin just wants to go home.
She was trapped between the retreating Tamil Tiger rebels and the Sri Lankan army in the bloody closing stages of Sri Lanka's civil war. In May, days before the Tigers were defeated, tragedy struck when a volley of shells hit the sandy bunker where Mrs Rubin and her family were hiding. Her two-year-old daughter died after being hit by shrapnel.

...It is six months since the guns fell silent in Sri Lanka and those kept behind barbed wire at Marik Farm are finally being allowed to go home....
However, many who return are finding their villages devastated."

The Few assume to be the deputies, but they are often only the despoilers of the Many.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

June 24, 2010
7:51 am
Avatar
rath
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 4297
Member Since:
April 9, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Anyone who seeks international protection/fleeing from economic/social despotism, etc. The Australian Government even has the UN's definition on their government site:

'An asylum seeker is an individual who is seeking international protection. In countries with individualized procedures, an asylum seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which he or she submitted it. Not every asylum seeker will ultimately be recognised as a refugee, but every refugee is initially an asylum seeker.'
(United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Master Glossary of Terms, June 2006)

Yhe i know what a refugee is .....

I just wanted YOU to define what a refugee is, so i can make my next point.

& my point is .......

A) i agree with the meaning you posted regarding what a refugee is.

'An asylum seeker is an individual who is seeking international protection. In countries with individualized procedures, an asylum seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which he or she submitted it.

A mexican refugees try to enter the USAA everyday, & the USA does not treat them as refugees.

instead the USA runs down mexicans with guns, cars, planes, & boats.

& here is the differance between Australia and just about every other country.

The USA & mexico share a land boarder.

Australia does not share a boarder with any other country.

& that is the key here, as a reall, refugee who is in fear of their life & the Life of their family, would take help from any country & ask the !st & closest nation to help them.

That is not what happens with refugees who seek to enter Australia.

Being a refugee does not give you the right to DEMAND witch nation you want to live in.

As a refugee you would be happy that you & your family are safe, no matter who helps you.

As i said ......... if the refugees in question where / are real refugees.

Why is it they dont claim they are refugee untill they reach Australia.

?????

As i said .....

Australia has no boarders with any other nation.

So these so called refugees, leave sri lanka, or afghanistan, ..... ect ect.
& seek to enter Australia as a refugee, claiming their lives are in immediate & present danger & their live / safety is at threat.

Yet rather then ask the frist / cloeset nation to them for help! they dont.

So here is the question .......

How is it that these refugees are in such danger when they get to Australia's borders .... yet they where not in danger when they arrived in the boarders of the many other nations they traveled to on their way to Australia.

[Image Can Not Be Found]

Like i said ..... Australia shares NO land borders with any nation.

So a

If Mexican seek to enter the USA they try and cross the US boarder, they dont try to enter the USA via Europe.

These refugees are not genuine refugee, they are unknown people trying to enter Australia.

A Genuine refugee would ask for help ..... from the first & cloest nation to their country,.

A refugee does not spend hundreds of thounds of dollars going from one nation to the next trying to get to Australia.

Look how far away Australia is ....... from the nations these refugees come from.

There are much closer nations to them where they can ask for for protection as a refugee under the UNHRC Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.

[Image Can Not Be Found]

[Image Can Not Be Found]

According to the United Nations Convention and Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees (the Refugee Convention), a refugee is someone who is outside their own country and cannot return due to a well-founded fear of persecution because of their:

race
religion
nationality
membership of a particular social group
political opinion.

The term ‘asylum seekers’ refers to all people who apply for refugee protection, whether or not they are officially determined to be refugees.

To get a protection visa to live in Australia, asylum seekers must show that they satisfy the definition of refugee in the Refugee Convention and that Australia has an obligation to protect them.

http://www.unhcr.org/protect/P.....c2aa10.pdf

In addition, Australia has obligations not to return people who face a real risk of violation of their human rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (articles 6 and 7) and the Convention Against Torture (article 3), even if they do not meet the definition of refugee under the Refugee Convention. The Convention on the Rights of the Child also requires Australia to provide special protection and assistance to refugee children and children seeking asylum in Australia.

In addition, while asylum seekers and refugees are in Australian territory (or otherwise subject to Australia’s jurisdiction), the Australian Government has obligations under various international treaties to ensure that their human rights are respected and protected. These treaties include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention Against Torture.

Again i put the question, ........

with Australia being so far away from where the refugees leave, & with the refugees going from one country to the next & onto the next & via several others, traveling by PLANE, TRAIN, BOATS, SHIPS, CARGO BOXES, BIKES, WALKING through jungles & forrests, going through so many other nations, before they even arrive at Australia's doorstep.

How can they claim to be genuine refugees in need of protection, after such a holiday.

To travel through so many nations via boat & plane, they had identification document.

Yet when they arrive in Australia they have none.

Why because they burn them so you dont know who they are or where they are from.

Why do they do this ...........

Because a person who is said stateless is a refugee.

June 24, 2010
7:55 am
Avatar
rath
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 4297
Member Since:
April 9, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

10,000 refugees eye Australia: Indonesia

A massive influx of up to 10,000 refugees is expected to head to Australia, Indonesian authorities have warned.

About 1,500 asylum seekers have already arrived in Indonesia from Malaysia by boat this year and registered for refugee status, while the same number again are believed to have arrived and not registered, Fairfax newspapers report.

Malaysia is used as a staging point to obtain tourist visas before refugees seek passage to Australia via Indonesia.

The refugees are believed to include people from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Burma and Iraq.

An Australian immigration enforcement official says the high volumes of people present a similar situation to the thousands who began arriving in the late 1990s.

With Australian financial and technical support, the Indonesian government will announce on Wednesday a strike team of 12 dedicated police to combat human trafficking.

But the sheer number of asylum seekers from Malaysia will put pressure on the new security measures.

Coordinator of the Malaysian immigration support group Tenaganita, Aegile Fernandez agreed that up to 10,000 asylum seekers in Malaysia were planning to come to Australia.

"I would put the blame on these agencies that have been promising Australia as the destination," she said.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has 49,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers in its records in Malaysia and estimates there are 45,000 unregistered illegal immigrants.

June 24, 2010
8:04 am
Avatar
rath
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 4297
Member Since:
April 9, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Sri Lankans threaten to blow up boat in Indonesia

October 14, 2009

MORE than 260 Sri Lankan asylum-seekers were last night threatening to blow up their boat if the Indonesian navy forced them to disembark at the port in Merak after the large cargo boat they were piloting towards Christmas Island broke down.

"We have gas canisters and we have told the navy we will blow up the boat and jump into the ocean if they try to force us off the boat," said a spokesman for the asylum-seekers, who would only give his name as Alex.

Alex said the Sri Lankans had each paid $US15,000 ($16,533) to board the wooden craft in Malaysia 13 days ago, after travelling there by air from Jaffna.

"If the authorities in Sri Lanka know this is me on this boat, they will hunt down my wife and children in Jaffna and kill them," the frightened man said. "I have been waiting for my wife and children to follow me here. As soon as possible, we need to get to Australia."

The Sri Lankan asylum-seekers and six Indonesian crew members were under military guard aboard the cargo ship in western Java after being intercepted trying to sail to Christmas Island.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono intervened directly in the case of the asylum-seekers, who were detained trying to sail to Christmas Island at the weekend.

Dr Yudhoyono has ordered his navy chief of staff to treat with care the group of hungry and tired refugees, who last night were expected to be towed to shore after their cargo boat's engine died. They were then to be dealt with by immigration officials after having refused for the past three days to leave their stricken boat.

Kevin Rudd confirmed yesterday he had made a personal plea to Dr Yudhoyono for the Indonesians to intercept the boat.

Alex denied last night that those on board the boat were associated with Tamil Tigers.

"We are civilians, not Tamil Tigers. Every day there are Tamils being killed and raped in the refugee camps. Men are blindfolded and shot in the back of the head.

"In Sri Lanka if you are Tamil there is no opportunity - the government can detain you without cause, and take you to trial without evidence."

Alex said the group's choice of Australia as a destination was not based on intimate knowledge of federal government immigration policy, but simply "because we had to flee somewhere".

"Another boat full of Tamils left Malaysia for Canada, and for that people were paying $US45,000 per person," he said. "That was far too expensive."

He said the group had been at sea for 13 days before being captured by an Indonesian navy vessel early on Saturday morning. "We spent a month in the jungle in Malaysia before that," he said.

International Organisation for Migration staff were working with Immigration Department officials last night to resolve the standoff, with the Sri Lankans adamant they wanted to continue their journey to Australia.

Alex refused to give details of the agent who had taken money from members for the group in Malaysia, repeatedly saying he feared for his life.

He was allowed to speak to The Australian for only a few moments, before senior navy officers made him rejoin the larger group.

The group consisted of women and children as well as men, and a number of extremely young children.

Four of the boatpeople were in hospital last night being treated for non life-threatening issues, including one woman who reportedly was pregnant.

A military source, who refused to be named, said navy ships guarding the asylum-seekers had accompanied the boat after it was intercepted in the Sunda Strait near Anak Krakatau, an active volcano that attracts thousands of tourists to its spectacular displays.

"We're guarding them so that no one can get on or off, and so they don't escape," the source said.

The boat was moored alongside an Indonesian submarine chaser and bore a large hand-painted sign saying: "We are Sri Lankan civilians plz save our life."

Australian Federal Police and Immigration Department officers had already visited the boat people, the source said. However they were refusing to speak to officials.

A doctor dealing with the four people in hospital said they included a baby with skin problems, a woman who is seven months pregnant, another with gastritis and a fourth who had a spinal injury sustained on the cargo boat.

Others had been given medical assessments on the boat and determined to be fine.

Erwin Hilianka, from the Banten province health department, said the illegal immigrants were suffering no serious illnesses but were only sick due to weakness and not eating.

The boat was intercepted early on Sunday morning, authorities said, and arrived in Merak harbour late the same day.

Indonesian police said they were investigating whether the six Indonesian crew members were involved in a known people-smuggling ring.

Thousands of asylum-seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Sri Lanka and Burma use Indonesia as a staging point to get to Australia where they apply for refugee status, often travelling first through Malaysia.
Many make their initial applications to the UN High Commission for Refugees in Jakarta, giving them temporary right to stay in the country while their claims are processed.

A large number of them then use this opportunity to organise risky voyages such as the most recent one to be intercepted, often with the services of organised people-smuggling rings.

Australia has launched a joint policing program with Indonesia to combat the people trafficking wave, with at least a dozen ports across the country being targeted.

Despite tough language from Jakarta for Australia's benefit, officials admit they are unable to stem the flow of refugees through the country. Many of the asylum-seekers themselves admit the flow has increased as a result of the Rudd government's softer measures on the problem.

These measures, which many asylum-seekers believe will give them a greater chance at being accepted as refugees by Australia if they try the journey by boat, have led to the main detention and processing centre at Christmas Island being filled beyond its capacity.

However Indonesian detention centres are also stretched beyond capacity, despite financial and other assistance from foreign governments including Australia and from the International Organisation for Migration.

The IOM works with the UNHCR giving shelter, food and medical treatment to thousands of asylum-seekers living in the community in areas such as Puncak, a mountainous resort region full of low-rent hostels south of Jakarta.

Hundreds more are in immigration detention centres across the country, with the latest boatload almost certain to join that category unless any of them can produce documentation showing they had refugee applications already being assessed by the UN.

Asylum-seekers who are successful in such applications while living in Indonesia then have the right to be considered for resettlement in a third country that has signed the international treaty dealing with refugees.

Chief among these countries are Australia, the US and Canada. Indonesia has never signed the treaty and, despite promises by Dr Yudhoyono during a visit by Mr Rudd last year, has not enacted anti-people smuggling legislation.

July 4, 2010
6:31 pm
Avatar
rath
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 4297
Member Since:
April 9, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Authorities intercept 75th boat

July 4, 2010

AAP

Australian authorities have intercepted a boat carrying 36 people near Christmas Island, as the federal government prepares to announce a new policy on border protection.

HMAS Glenelg intercepted the vessel on Friday night, northwest of Flying Fish Cove at Christmas Island.

The boat was carrying 34 passengers and two crew.

The government did not say where the passengers were from.

If they are from Sri Lanka or Afghanistan, their applications for asylum will not be processed right away, in line with government policy.

The suspension of processing claims from Sri Lankans is due to expire on Thursday and the government is yet to announce whether it will extend the suspension.

The boat's passengers will be taken to Christmas Island.

It's the 75th asylum seeker vessel to arrive in Australian waters this year.

Forum Timezone: America/Los_Angeles

Most Users Ever Online: 288

Currently Online:
57 Guest(s)

Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)

Top Posters:

greeney2: 10228

bionic: 9870

at1with0: 9243

Lashmar: 5289

tigger: 4576

rath: 4297

DIss0n80r: 4161

sandra: 3858

frrostedman: 3815

Wing-Zero: 3278

Member Stats:

Guest Posters: 2

Members: 23918

Moderators: 0

Admins: 2

Forum Stats:

Groups: 8

Forums: 31

Topics: 8653

Posts: 123263

Newest Members:

mike, Sanchez, heartmom, ieltstips22, Vicente Vargas, Goldingsboy, Bauer Palmer, Spacemonkey, hondahonda, laundryroom

Administrators: John Greenewald: 558, blackvault: 1776