Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Australia returns refugees to persecution

Non-refoulement is a key principle of international law, which forbids the return of a victim to their persecutor. Its encoded in both the Convention Against Torture and the Refugee Convention. But in its efforts to shut out refugees, Australia is now abandoning it:

Tamil asylum seekers believed to have been intercepted on astricken fishing vessel off Christmas Island might be forcibly returned directly to south Asia by the Australian government.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday night the government was prepared to talk with any country to enforce its policy of stopping boats from reaching Australia.

If the asylum seekers are in Australian custody, they are being held without communications. The last contact made by satellite phone was at the weekend.

Removing the asylum seekers from Australian territory would be illegal under international law.

Sri Lanka is a torture-state whose government committed numerous war crimes during its civil war. The government use rape and sexual violence to brutalise the Tamil population. Returning people to a government which does this is a clear violation of international law, and makes Australia responsible for these refugees' subsequent treatment. But Australia's racist government doesn't care.