This is a shameful day for our country.
The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, has this morning signed the legislative instrument designating Papua New Guinea (PNG) as a regional processing country under the Migration Act. The designation documents will be tabled in Parliament allowing for the transfer of irregular maritime arrivals who arrived after 13 August to PNG.
PNG is a refugee producing country, unable to protect it’s own citizens, even
though it has signed the Refugee Convention. Women, children and minorities flee from PNG and are granted refugee status in Australia and other countries because of the strength of their claims. In addition people fleeing persecution from West Papua have also come to Australia because they were not protected in PNG. The Immigration department hold the statistical evidence on the number of people who have sought asylum from PNG and been granted Refugee protection by Australia.
Asylum seekers who have been marooned in PNG have found themselves in great dange, relying on UNHCR for protection.
Australia is hiding behind the fact that PNG has signed the refugee convention
without being honest about the many exemptions and reservations which PNG has included in this signing. PNG has seven significant reservations to the Refugee Convention
As recently as this year the UNHCR reports that ” at present, there is no effective national regulatory framework or institutional capacity to conduct RSD.” (Refugee Status dtermination) Perhaps the Minister will cast light on this matter today when he explains how Asylum seeker claims will be processed.
See report here http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e488e26.html
Like Nauru – signing the convention does not prove capacity and ability to
implement the convention responsibilities.
Into this human rights void, Australia is condemning the fate of 600 men , women and children who have asked for protection. Many are proven refugees holding UNHCR REFUGEE CARDS from camps as far away as Yemen and as close as Malaysia and Indonesia.
EXCERPT FROM DESIGNATION STATEMENT (attached)
As this excerpt from the current statement demonstrates , Australia is walking
away from the promises we made to respect human rights when we signed the
Refugee convention and the other agreements which protect human rights.