On One Point, Ruddock Is Right: Dean Of Law

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16th October 2009, 02:02pm - Views: 1084

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On one point, Ruddock is right: Dean of Law 

The Prime Minister’s personal intervention to convince the Indonesian President to arrest

and hold 260 Sri Lankans off Krakatoa Island this week smacks of the Howard

administration’s program says the Dean of the Melbourne Law School, Professor James


A leading international expert on asylum seekers and refugee law, Professor Hathaway is

the President of the Cuenca Colloquium on International Refugee Law and counsel to both the US

Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and Asylum Access, a non-profit organisation committed to

delivering innovative legal aid to refugees in the global South. 

Professor Hathaway says it’s apparent the Federal Government is trying to buy its way out of


“Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has conscripted the Indonesians to do our ‘dirty work’ rather than ordering

our own forces to keep the refugees away.  But the effect is the same,” he says.  

“Just as the Howard Government dumped refugees in Nauru, a place where refugee law did not apply,

so too has the Prime Minister decided that persons exercising their international legal right to seek

protection should be forcibly held in Indonesia, another country which refuses to sign the United

Nations Refugee Convention. 

“In the result, people fleeing truly dire situations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka – many, if not most,

of whom would under Australian standards qualify for protection as refugees – have been (albeit

indirectly) stripped of their rights.  By us.

“The Pacific Solution saw Australia buy Nauru’s acquiescence by the financing of sports ovals, offering

of scholarships and funding of medical bills for Naurans.  Australia under the Rudd Government is

once more buying its way out of protection responsibilities, this time offering Indonesia a combination

of intelligence information, satellite imagery, security training  and as yet unspecified ‘framework

assistance’ to seal the deal on imprisoning refugees bound for Australia.”

“Nothing in international law allows Australia or any other state party to imprison refugee

claimants – directly or by paying off partner states – for the simple act of seeking asylum.  

“For his personal role in convincing Indonesia to violate international norms, the Prime Minister

does owe us all an abject apology.

For more information:

David Scott (Media Unit): T: +613 83440561 M: 0409024230 E: dascott@unimelb.edu.au 

Media Alert

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Attention: Newsdesk

Issued: Friday 16 October 2009

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