Friday, April 09, 2010

More Australian racism

Australia will be going to the polls later this year, and the Australian government is facing again facing increasing political pressure over refugees. So they've decide to simply refuse to accept any applications for refugee status from people fleeing the two biggest sources: Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

Quite apart from being inhumane - Afghanistan is still a war zone, while Tamils in Sri Lanka still face significant discrimination and repression - it is also illegal. The UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees [PDF] requires every case to be assessed on its merits. As a party to the Convention, Australia can no more ban applications from Afghanistan than those from the USA. Article 3 of the Convention specifically requires parties to apply its provisions "without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin". They can no more refuse Afghans than they can Catholics or blacks.

This policy clearly puts Australia in breach of its international obligations. And if New Zealand had any principles, we'd be the first to take them to the ICJ over it.