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Australian Current Affairs

UN says Australia has no ethics on asylum seekers

Australia Asylum SeekersThe head of the UN High Commission for Refugees in Australia has expressed alarm at the “mean-spirited” public debate on asylum-seekers, warning that the nation is at a “crossroads” and must decide if it will continue to pursue harsh policies of deterrence.

The UNHCR’s regional representative, Richard Towle, said while Australia had an effective and generous resettlement program, it had been “accompanied by a sharp deterioration in the quality of protection for asylum-seekers and refugees coming by boat and a worrying erosion of public support for asylum in Australia”.

“UNHCR understands the widespread concerns in Australia about border security, and the costs of managing the higher number of people arriving by boats, but it is imperative that these do not eclipse the fundamental legal and ethical principles on which the global system of asylum is founded,” Mr Towle said in a speech to mark World Refugee Day.

He said the UNHCR was concerned about “an ever-widening suite of deterrent measures”, including the transfer of asylum-seekers to “less than adequate” processing facilities in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, the “unfair and unreliable” screening methods used to return Sri Lankans, the suspension of processing of more than 20,000 asylum claims since August 13, and the lack of support for asylum-seekers in the community.

“Seen as a whole, UNHCR is concerned that asylum in Australia is very much at a crossroads — whether to continue down the path of ever more restrictive and deterrence-based policies and practices, or to redouble efforts that engage other countries in the region through meaningful co-operation and collaboration.”

Mr Towle’s comments came as another two boats, together carrying 229 asylum-seekers, were intercepted by authorities — including a boat branded with a boxing kangaroo that was taken to Christmas Island.

Retiring Liberal MP Judi Moylan also warned on the detention of asylum-seeker children in her valedictory address to parliament yesterday. “If we are committed to stopping the deaths at sea, in this most intransigent of political arenas, our parliament must find a way to forge a national consensus on this matter before we can possibly entertain any hope of achieving a regional consensus.”

Source: The Australian – Ethics lost in asylum backlash: UN

About Craig Hill

Social Justice Campaigner, Writer, Teacher and Business Consultant. Lived in China and USA. Dealing with disability. My articles have been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and many other international publications. Please consider donating, to support our social justice campaign, by clicking on the "Donations Page" button in the top menu.


3 thoughts on “UN says Australia has no ethics on asylum seekers

  1. The United Nations refugee agency has expressed alarm at a ”sharp deterioration” in the quality of protection for asylum seekers and refugees coming by boat and a ”worrying erosion” of public support for asylum in Australia.

    Posted by Hilario V. Barton | July 9, 2013, 19:42


  1. Pingback: Australian plan to pay Indonesia to stop asylum seekers | Craig Hill - June 21, 2013

  2. Pingback: Australia’s new asylum policy hits Iranians hardest | Craig Hill - July 1, 2013

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