2,000 Australian lawyers: Rudd's asylum plan shameful


A group representing more than 2000 Australian lawyers says the federal government's plan to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea is shameful and takes advantage of a needy neighbour.


Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) president John Southalan said PNG had indicated when it joined the Refugee Convention that it wouldn't be bound by obligations regarding the rights of asylum seekers to work and education.


He also pointed out PNG had not signed the treaty against torture.


"These are very serious deficiencies in the legal protections which Australia considers important," he said.


Mr Rudd announced on Friday that people who arrive by boat and without a visa will have no chance to settle in Australia.

They will instead be sent to Papua New Guinea and settled there.


Mr Southalan said Mr Rudd would be "exposing these people to greater harm".


"Australia's obligations are not met by effectively engaging in the people trade itself: paying poor and needy countries to take asylum seekers and refugees who sought Australia's protection," he said in a statement.


Mr Southalan pointed out that Australia had joined the Refugee Convention in 1954.


"The convention is not about pushing refugees and asylum seekers from your shores to somewhere else in the hope that improves your electoral chances...


"When considering the millions of refugees and displaced persons which other countries house when they flee across borders from conflict in neighbouring countries, this proposal is shameful."


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