Monthly Archives: December 2012

Manus Island receives 25 male asylum seekers

December 30, 2012

Manus Island

An asylum seeker pictured on Manus Island in 2004. Source: Supplied

A GROUP of Afghan and Pakistani males has been transferred to the makeshift detention centre on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

The group of 25 single males, including 14 Afghans and 11 Pakistanis, arrived at Manus Island early on Saturday, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said in a statement.

They were accompanied by Australian Federal Police, immigration staff, interpreters, childrens services and medical staff.

The latest transfer brings the total number of asylum seekers on Manus Island to 155.



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Filed under Detention Centers, PNG/Pacific Solution

Asylum-seeker boat intercepted after engine trouble

December 30, 2012

A boat carrying 37 suspected asylum seekers has been intercepted in Australian waters after experiencing engine trouble.

The crew of the vessel contacted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Rescue Coordination Centre on Saturday afternoon for assistance after losing power.

The boat had experienced engine trouble in the vicinity of Ashmore Islands but its crew then conveyed that it was able to continue without help.

The call prompted surveillance aircraft under the control of Border Protection Command to do a flyover before HMAS Larrakia intercepted the boat.


The 37 passengers and three crew will be transferred to Christmas Island where they will undergo initial security, health and identity checks.


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101 arrive on two boats

December 27, 2012

BORDER protection has intercepted two boats carrying suspected asylum seekers. The latest vessel was met by HMAS Maryborough north of Christmas Island on Wednesday carrying six passengers and two crew. Another boat, intercepted east of Ashmore Reef by HMAS Wollongong on Christmas Day, was carrying 95 passengers and three crew.

Passengers from both vessels will be transferred to Christmas Island for initial health, identity and security checks.

On Monday, the federal opposition claimed the number of asylum seekers arriving by sea under the Gillard government’s watch had exceeded 25,000. ”One of the main excuses Julia Gillard had for outing former prime minister Kevin Rudd was his failure to protect Australia’s borders,” said Coalition border protection spokesman Michael Keenan in a statement.



Filed under Boat Intercepted

Asylum boat carrying 87 intercepted

24 December 2012

(Media Release) HMAS Melville and HMAS Albany, operating in support of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC Australia), rendered assistance to a suspected irregular entry vessel north-north-east of Christmas Island yesterday.

Initial indications suggest there are 87 passengers and three crew on board.

Border Protection Command will now make arrangements for the passengers to be transferred to Christmas Island, where they will undergo initial security, health and identity checks and their reasons for travel will be established.

Merchant Vessel JS Loire, operating under the coordination of RCC Australia, rendered assistance to a suspected irregular entry vessel north-west of Cocos (Keeling) Island on Friday.

Initial indications suggest that 35 people have been embarked in MV JS Loire for passage to Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

ACV Triton will assist the transfer of the people to Australian Government authorities on Cocos (Keeling) Islands, where they will have basic health and security checks. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship will then make arrangements for them to be transferred to Christmas Island, where they will undergo further security, health and identity checks and their reasons for travel will be established.

People arriving by boat without a visa after 13 August 2012 run the risk of transfer to a regional processing country.

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Amnesty International slams Greece over treatment of migrants, asylum seekers

December 20, 2012

The treatment of migrants and asylum seekers in Greece makes a “mockery” of the Nobel Peace Prize award to the European Union, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

Most European countries have taken the right step in stopping the return of asylum seekers to Greece until the country reforms its asylum system. However, they must share responsibility for processing asylum applications and supporting asylum seekers more equally among member states,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“The current situation in Greece is totally unworthy of the Nobel Peace Prize winning European Union and so far below international human rights standards as to make a mockery of them. Greece needs help but it must also accept its own responsibilities.”

AI detailed the failure of Greece to process asylum applications properly, taking on just 20 cases each week, and to confront incidents of racism.

“Greece’s failure to respect the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers is taking on the proportions of a humanitarian crisis,” said Dalhuisen.

“Against a backdrop of sustained migratory pressure, profound economic crisis and rising xenophobic sentiment, Greece is proving itself incapable of providing even the most basic requirements of safety and shelter to the thousands of asylum seekers and migrants arriving each year.”

AI said that recent police sweep operations had led to asylum seekers, including unaccompanied minors, being detained in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions.

“The Greek authorities must ensure that immigration-related detention is used only as a last resort and that they prohibit the detention of unaccompanied children in law and end it in practice,” said Dalhuisen.

The organization said that in some cases, Greek authorities were also pushing back migrants crossing from Turkey, including by puncturing a rubber dinghy they were sailing in.

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Filed under Asylem Seekers in Europe, Human Rights and Refugee Activists

Australia helping Pakistan stop Hazara asylum seekers from leaving: report

December 20, 2012

Children from the ethnic Hazara minority play in front of their cave home in Afghanistan

Children from the ethnic Hazara minority play in front of their cave home in the central town of Bamiyan some 240km north-west of Kabul, April 13, 2007. (Reuters)

Australia’s reported cooperation with Pakistan’s intelligence agencies to stop Hazara asylum seekers from leaving the country is “questionable and sordid”, Amnesty International says.

It follows an investigation by the Global Mail which quoted Pakistani officials confirming that Australian Federal Police had encouraged a policy of racially profiling people from the Hazara community, suspected of preparing to flee the country.

Hazaras are Shia Muslims and often face persecution from Sunni death squads in Pakistan. Their distinctive East Asian facial features make them an easy target.

“In getting involved with the intelligence agencies in Pakistan, Australia is involving itself in a very sordid and questionable environment, in which these Hazaras are facing really shocking threats, and are literally being killed every week,” Mustafa Qadri, a Pakistan researcher with Amnesty International, told Radio Australia.

Mr Qadri said it was known that Australia was providing financial and other assistance to Pakistani intelligence agencies to stop a range of racketeering in the country, including people smuggling.

“The Australian authorities are trying to disrupt the smuggling but in the process effectively supporting elements involved in a range of very sordid things,” he said.

“What we also see on the ground is that Australian authorities are trying to stop people from coming to Australia by saying that they won’t get asylum in Australia, that it’s on a very arduous journey … this is PR against that.”


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Filed under Asylum Policy, Other

UN Human Rights Committee asks Australia to explain human rights record

December 19, 2012

The UN Human Rights Committee has asked Australia to explain how a range of laws, policies and practices are compatible with international human rights standards ahead of a major review of Australia’s human rights record.

The Committee of independent experts is responsible for monitoring states’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Australia was last reviewed in 2009 and has been asked by the Committee to respond to a “List of Issues” by April 2013.

“The issues raised by the Committee correspond with major areas of human rights concern identified by Australian non-government and community organisations,” said the HRLC’s Director of International Human Rights Advocacy, Ben Schokman.

“The expert treaty body has asked the government to explain, for example, how Australia can adequately protect human rights in the absence of a national Human Rights Act. It has also raised prima facie concerns with issues such as violence against women, the necessity and proportionality of Australia’s counter-terrorism laws, the human rights compatibility of the continuing Northern Territory intervention, and discrimination against a range of vulnerable groups,” said Mr Schokman.

The Committee asked particularly detailed questions about Australia’s refugee and asylum seeker policies:

  • “Please explain how the transferring of asylum seekers to third countries for the processing of their claims is consistent with the State party’s obligations under the Covenant, most significantly non-refoulement obligations.”
  • “Please explain whether the State party plans to reform or abolish the system of mandatory detention without individualised determination of necessity in cases of illegal entry.”

The Committee also expressed concern about the “disproportionately high rate of incarceration of Indigenous people” and the lack of access to “appropriate health care for people experiencing mental illness”.

According to Mr Schokman, “It should be a matter of concern to all Australians that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are incarcerated at over 15 times the rate of non-Indigenous adults, while Indigenous children are almost 24 times more likely to be in detention.”

“The ratification and implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, an international treaty which requires independent monitoring and inspections of all places of detention, should be an urgent priority for national, state and territory governments,” he said.

The Committee has asked Australia to provide detailed responses to its questions by 1 April 2013.

A copy of the HRLC’s written submission to the Human Rights Committee is available here.

Together with other leading NGOs, the HRLC also provided an oral briefing to the Committee in November 2012.


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Filed under Human Rights and Refugee Activists, PNG/Pacific Solution