Excising Australia is Obscene as Well as Ridiculous

December 21, 2012

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Media Release
For immediate release: Thursday, 21 December 2012

Excising Australia is Obscene as Well as Ridiculous

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (?ALHR?) today condemned the government?s legislative proposals to excise the Australian mainland from Australia for the purpose of its international obligations to people who come to us seeking asylum from persecution.

?The proposal to excise Australia from the Australian Migration Zone sounds ridiculous?, said Stephen Keim SC, ALHR President, today. ?It is worse than that. It is a final piece in the construction of an Australia that denies its obligations under the Refugee Convention, an international instrument that Australia helped create and always claimed to respect. Australia is in human rights denial and vulnerable people are those who suffer.?

Mr. Keim was speaking in support of ALHR?s submission (submission no. 7 at this link) to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on the recently introduced Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill 2012 (?the Bill?). The Bill contains the excision proposals for the mainland of Australia.

?Recent changes to the law have implemented Australia?s refugee export non-solution?, said Mr. Keim. ?This has meant that most asylum seekers who are picked up at sea or who reach places like Ashmore Reef or other offshore islands are to be detained and sent overseas to a place chosen by the Minister to have their claims considered?.

?The Bill extends these powers to anybody lucky enough to make it to the mainland. It completes the denial of our freely undertaken treaty obligations to asylum seekers?, said Mr. Keim.
?The rationale given for the Bill that it is to save lives by discouraging people from sailing further is misleading and immoral?, said Mr. Keim. ?The legislation is directed at making a political problem go away at whatever cost?, said Mr. Keim.

?If would be asylum seekers disappear into white vans in Sri Lanka; are murdered by mobs in Quetta in Pakistan; die travelling overland through Asia; or drown in the Mediterranean, that seems to be of no concern to the Australian government?, said Mr. Keim. ?The object of the Bill is to make the political problem, itself, disappear?.

?The Australian Parliament should reject the Bill?, said Mr. Keim. ?Australia should accept that we live in a troubled world. We should comply with the treaties that we have accepted, over 60 years ago, to deal with the troubled world we well knew existed, even then.?

Stephen Keim
President, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
Mobile: 0433 846 518
Email: s.keim@higginschambers.com.au

ALHR (Australian Lawyers for Human Rights) is a network of Australian lawyers active in practising and promoting awareness of international human rights standards in Australia. ALHR has a national membership of almost 2500 people, with active National, State and Territory committees.