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High Noon For Australian Government

MEDIA RELEASE

HIGH NOON FOR AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT

Refugee advocates from around Australia will converge on Federal Parliament House, Canberra this Wednesday, 11th August at 12 noon to express their opposition to last Friday's High Court decision which ruled that 'stateless' asylum seekers can now be held indefinitely in Australian detention centres.

In a 4-3 majority decision, the High Court ruled that federal law mandating detention of asylum seekers until they are either deported or granted refugee status is lawful. This decision followed an appeal hearing on behalf of two men, Ahmed Ali Al-Kateb, 28, and Abbas Mohammad Hasan Al Khafaji, 31, who are both 'stateless' and had previously been granted bridging visas pending the High Court decision but will now be returned to detention.

Stateless people have committed no crime and their indefinite detention is in breach of Australia's international obligations and is in contrary to the basic fundamental freedoms of a democratic society.

Tony Kevin, author of 'A Certain Maritime Incident: the sinking of SIEV X' said today "I share the distress of all liberal-minded Australians at the cruel impact of this High Court ruling. I believe the focus has to be on getting the present law changed. Australian governments cannot leave these innocent people to rot in prison for the rest of their lives. If they do, it will be open to decent-minded Australians to submit the issue to the International Criminal Court, because Australia's laws would be violating a basic human right to freedom. This is precisely what our country's membership of the ICC allows us to do. On this as on the sinking of SIEV X, if in the end we cannot achieve justice nationally, public-spirited citizens will have to take these cases to the ICC".

Speakers at Wednesday's rally will include Hon Carmen Lawrence MHR, Senator Andrew Bartlett, Senator Bob Brown and prominent refugee advocates.

For details of the ruling, please see

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/high_ct/2004/37.html

ENDS


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