Asy­lum ar­rivals by boat to Aus­tralia face lifetime visa ban

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Aus­tralia has un­veiled tough new plans to bar any asy­lum seek­ers who try to reach the coun­try by boat from ever be­ing able to en­ter. The lifetime ban on visas would ap­ply even to those trav­el­ling as tourists, for busi­ness, or who mar­ried an Aus­tralian. Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull said the move would send “the strong­est pos­si­ble sig­nal” to peo­ple-smug­glers. The pro­posed ban is to be put to par­lia­ment later this week. Aus­tralia trans­ports asy­lum seek­ers who ar­rive by boat to off­shore pro­cess­ing cen­tres in Nauru and Pa­pua New Guinea’s Manus Is­land. Even if found to be gen­uine refugees, they are al­ready blocked from be­ing re­set­tled in Aus­tralia. They can ei­ther re­turn home, be re­set­tled on Manus or Nauru, or go to a third coun­try. The new leg­is­la­tion would ap­ply to all those sent to Nauru and Manus from 19 July 2013, in­clud­ing those who have re­turned home, and any­one who ar­rives in the fu­ture. Chil­dren, how­ever, would be ex­empt. “This is a bat­tle of will be­tween the Aus­tralian peo­ple, rep­re­sented by its gov­ern­ment, and the crim­i­nal gangs of peo­ple-smug­glers,” Mr Turn­bull said.have come in for crit­i­cism “You should not un­der­es­ti­mate the scale of the threat. Th­ese peo­ple-smug­glers are the worst crim­i­nals imag­in­able. They have a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar busi­ness. We have to be very de­ter­mined to say no to their crim­i­nal plans.” He added: “If they seek to bring peo­ple to Aus­tralia those pas­sen­gers will never set­tle in this coun­try.” The law will di­rectly af­fect about 3,000 adult refugees be­ing housed on Manus, Nauru or in Aus­tralia un­der­go­ing med­i­cal treat­ment. Aus­tralia’s La­bor op­po­si­tion says it is yet to de­cide whether to back the new law. Aus­tralia has been re­peat­edly criticised for its tough pol­icy on refugees and asy­lum seek­ers. Ear­lier this month, a re­port by Amnesty In­ter­na­tional com­pared its camp on Nauru to an open-air prison. Mr Turn­bull dis­missed the re­port’s find­ings as “ab­so­lutely false”.

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