Sunday, June 16, 2013

Criminal refugee plan 'illegal'

Criminal refugee plan 'illegal'
A coalition policy to send criminal refugees back to countries where they may be in danger has been slammed as illegal.
The federal coalition on Sunday announced that asylum seekers and other foreigners convicted of serious crimes, punishable by more than one year in jail, would have their visas cancelled and deported.
Under the proposed changes, people who have had their visas cancelled will also lose their right to appeal the cancellation decisions.
Shadow attorney-general George Brandis says the changes are aimed at protecting Australians from foreign criminals.
He says Labor's failed border policies had made Australian streets less safe.
'The coalition is concerned about the link between illegal immigration and crime, and we propose to do something about it,' he told Network Ten.
Asked whether approved refugees would be deported, even if there was a presumption that they faced danger, Senator Brandis said: 'We would rescind the visa.'
International law forbids asylum seekers from being returned to countries where they may be persecuted.
Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop insisted the coalition wouldn't breach international law under the plan.
Asked where a coalition government would send asylum seekers if they couldn't be returned to the place they fled, Ms Bishop replied: 'We would send them back to the place where they came from.'
Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor dismissed the plan as being part of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's 'cynical campaign to raise fear in the community'.
Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said sending refugees back to regimes that are likely to harm them is illegal.
'Tony Abbott knows this but because his appetite for fear mongering can't be satisfied, he will do anything to drag the national debate to a new low,' she said in a statement.
Mr O'Connor will in the remaining two weeks of parliament urge the coalition and the Greens to support the government's Malaysia people swap deal.
'The recent tragedies at sea are a confronting reminder that the parliament must now steel itself and accept ... the Malaysia arrangement,' Mr O'Connor said.
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says Labor has so far failed to secure Malaysian government support for any changes to the deal, as recommended by the expert Houston panel on asylum seekers.
'As a result, the arrangement does not exist in any form that could be even considered, let alone progressed,' Mr Morrison said