After consultations with experts in refugee law and protection from the Asia-Pacific region, the Greens will this morning work with concerned parliamentarians to begin negotiating a way through the current impasse on immigration policy.
“The Greens approach these talks with ideas we’ve gathered from our discussions with refugee experts from across the region including Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia,” Greens’ immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said.
“In talks with Asia-Pacific humanitarian and refugee agencies yesterday representatives urged Australia to uphold our obligations to the Refugee Convention and international law.
“The experts insisted that working collectively with our regional neighbours to strengthen protections for asylum seekers in Malaysia and Indonesia, while their claims are assessed by the UNHCR, is the only way to reduce the need for people to board boats.
“They asked Australia to work directly with their countries’ officials towards safer options and safe pathways for people seeking asylum.
“There is a serious concern from those working on refugee protection issues that Australia’s push for offshore processing actually undermines their efforts, as it leads to other countries not giving asylum seekers protection. This ultimately leads to desperation, uncertainty and more people getting onto dangerous boats.
“Earmarked funding to the UNHCR to improve assessments of asylum claims throughout the region, and the establishment of an Australian Ambassador for Refugee Protection to manage high-level diplomacy to achieve regional response and co-operation, are among the specific things they have asked Australia to do urgently.
“The Greens are prepared to work hard with other Australian politicians to develop new and safe pathways for asylum seekers in line with what Amnesty International, the UNHCR and the refugee protection organisations from our region say is needed.
“We need a regional response which involves our neighbours because, without them, there will be no long-term answers or humane options for desperate men, women and children.
“Yesterday the Greens announced we would help create a multi-party committee on asylum policy based on a commitment to human rights law and the 1951 Refugee Convention.
“Today we approach the group of concerned parliamentarians in a spirit of goodwill with suggestions from experts in Southeast Asia that we hope will be adopted by all parties.”