Gov­ern­ment to ban asy­lum seek­ers ar­riv­ing on boat

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

CANBERRA (AP):

AUS­TRALIA ON Sun­day an­nounced plans to ratchet up its tough pol­icy against refugees by ban­ning any asy­lum seeker who at­tempts to reach its shores by boat from ever vis­it­ing the coun­try.

A pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced a pol­icy on July 19, 2013, ban­ning refugees who ar­rive by boat from In­done­sian ports af­ter that date from ever be­ing re­set­tled in Aus­tralia.

Un­der leg­is­la­tion to be in­tro­duced to Par­lia­ment next week, thou­sands of asy­lum seek­ers who have re­turned to their home­lands in the Mid­dle East, Africa and Asia would be banned for life from ever trav­el­ling to Aus­tralia as tourists to do busi­ness or as an Aus­tralian’s spouse, Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull said.

“You need the clear­est of clear mes­sages,” Turn­bull told re­porters.

“This is a bat­tle of will be­tween the Aus­tralian peo­ple, rep­re­sented by their gov­ern­ment, and these crim­i­nal gangs of peo­ple smug­glers. You should not un­der­es­ti­mate the scale of the threat,” he added.

Aus­tralia has paid the poor Pa­cific na­tions of Nauru and Papua New Guinea to keep asy­lum seek­ers in camps since the 2013 pol­icy came into force.

The new pol­icy would ap­ply to all asy­lum Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull. seek­ers who have at­tempted to reach Aus­tralia since July 19, 2013.

Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Peter Dut­ton said asy­lum seeker chil­dren would be ex­empt from the visa ban and he would have dis­cre­tion to make ex­cep­tions for adults in cases where to do so was in the pub­lic in­ter­est.

Daniel Webb, di­rec­tor of le­gal ad­vo­cacy at the Hu­man Rights Law Cen­ter, said the change would per­ma­nently sep­a­rate fam­i­lies and “en­trench the limbo” for asy­lum seek­ers and refugees on Nauru and Papua, New Guinea.

More than 51,000 asy­lum seek­ers ar­rived in Aus­tralian wa­ters by boat dur­ing the six years the for­mer cen­tre-left Lo­bar Party gov­ern­ment was in power from 2007 un­til 2013. More than 20,000 ar­rived in 2013.

No boat-smug­gling op­er­a­tion has suc­ceeded in de­liv­er­ing asy­lum seek­ers to Aus­tralia since July 2014 un­der Turn­bull’s con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment. But hu­man rights groups have ac­cused Aus­tralia of ab­ro­gat­ing its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to refugees as a sig­na­tory to the United Na­tions Refugee Con­ven­tion.

Labour spokesman Bren­dan O’Connor said the op­po­si­tion would have to read the leg­is­la­tion be­fore de­cid­ing whether it would sup­port it in the Se­nate where the gov­ern­ment does not hold a ma­jor­ity of seats.

“With any leg­is­la­tion, you want to look at it, see whether, in fact, it is fair and rea­son­able and is con­sis­tent with our own com­mit­ments in­ter­na­tion­ally,” O’Connor told Sky News Tele­vi­sion.

THOU­SANDS OF REFUGEES

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