The screening out process used by the Federal Labor government to deport hundreds of Sri Lankan asylum seekers last year seems to have re-activated – this time against asylum seekers from Bangladesh.
At least eight Bangladeshi asylum seekers at Darwin’s Wickham Point Detention Centre have been denied the right to make a claim for protection and have been told they are to be deported to Bangladesh Tuesday morning, 5 March.
A significant number of Bangladeshi asylum seekers have been among recent boat arrivals. Refugee advocates fear these deportations are the start of the government systematically using its selective and discriminatory screening out procedures against Bangladeshi asylum seekers.
“We are calling on the government to stop these deportations and allow the Bangladeshis access to legal advice,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “We fear there may be more being deported than the eight asylum seekers we know of.
“The government needs to come clean on the procedures it is using to screen out asylum seekers. Asylum seekers must have the right to put their claims and have them independently assessed,” said Rintoul.
“It simply beggars belief that the government would be returning anyone to Bangladesh given the turmoil in that country at the moment. There is no way the Australian government can guarantee the safety of anyone being returned to Bangladesh. The army is on the streets and sixty-one people have been killed in the last seven days.
“Many Sri Lankans screened out last year were beaten and jailed in Sri Lanka. There is every reason to believe that Bangladeshi asylum seekers will face similar treatment or worse if they are deported. One of the Bangladeshi asylum seekers in Wickham Point said that he would be killed if he is returned.
“Screening out undermines a fundamental principle of the Refugee Convention – the commitment that asylum seekers’ claims will be fairly processed and they will not be discriminated against.”
For more information contact Ian Rintoul mob 0417 275 713
Category: Press releases