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Chris Evans Should Heed His Strong Words


Immigration Minister should heed his strong "deter and deny" words

"Immigration Minister Chris Evans should be careful with his words when he issues his stern warnings against unauthorised arrivals, because he may manipulate the facts following John Howard's strong myth-making about any socalled 'illegality' of unauthorised boat arrivals", WA human rights group Project SafeCom said this morning following Chris Evans' comments on ABC radio. (See: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/12/18/2121235.htm)

"There is no law in Australia and there is no international law, that makes unauthorised entry of our country by boat illegal; in fact the opposite is true by implication of the UN Refugee Convention for the purposes of seeking asylum: the UN Convention provides for 'privileged entry' of boats for the purposes of claiming asylum from persecution," spokesman Mr Jack H Smit said.

"Minister Evans may want to sound brave and strong, but yesterday's revelations by Fairfax media for example that the 16 Indonesians were just blown off course, and that they are grateful for Australia's help, and the other revelations that another boat with four people has been rescued off our coast and the people have been brought to Christmas Island, does not make any of these border entries 'illegal', even while they on the face of it may be 'unauthorised'.

"It seems that Chris Evans and Labor want to build on the nasty myths spread by John Howard's horrific administration. Labor should not lower itself to this level, and should know that it is not necessary to do so."

"It's one thing to vigorously intercept vessels and seek clarification, interviews and processing of those on board, but it is another thing to ramp up incorrect language to sound strong and try to intimidate. The likes of Pauline Hanson and the populist politicians do enough of that, and Labor should govern from informed foundations and on factual grounds."

"For those countries who signed the UN Convention, not one single vessel that has entered its territories for the purposes of seeking asylum since that Convention was formulated, has been illegal, and the Minister should have this in the forefront of his mind."

"One of the duties of the Minister is to protect and enable asylum seekers and their claims, and it seems that he seeks to undermine one of the legitimate ways of seeking such asylum: arrival by boat in Australian waters. He should remember his duties to protect and enable in this context," Mr Smit concluded.

ENDS

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