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Aust: Asylum seekers must be properly protected

Asylum seekers must be properly protected

Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said today that revelations that Chinese officials were allowed to interview asylum seekers, some of whom have since been found to be genuine refugees contravenes the Refugee Convention and is of great concern.

"Reports on ABC radio that the Australian government has an agreement that allowed foreign officials access to asylum seekers is unacceptable and a clear breach of the Refugee Convention," said Senator Nettle.

"Minister Vanstone should ensure all such agreements between the
Department of Immigration and foreign governments are made public for scrutiny by the parliament and community.

"The Minister must also explain how this could have happened and ensure that it does not happen in the future.

"Unfortunately this fits into a pattern of behaviour by this government.

"Under the secret Memorandum of Understanding with Iran, officials from the Islamic Republic were allowed to visit Iranian asylum seekers in 2003.

"The West Timorese family being detained on Christmas Island told me that Indonesian officials were allowed to photograph and question them against their will in Darwin before their asylum claims were assessed and that DIMA tried to put them on an Indonesian bound aircraft.

"Such practices and agreements demonstrate a willingness by the Australian government to prioritise trade relationships with such countries ahead of our international obligations to asylum seekers and commitment to human rights."

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