• Press Release

High Court Decision on Malaysia Deal ‘Big Win’ for Human Rights, Says Amnesty International

August 31, 2011

Contact: AIUSA media relations, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) — Amnesty International has welcomed as "a landmark victory for human rights" the High Court decision stopping the Malaysia refugee swap. The human rights organization has consistently warned the Australian Government that Malaysia is a dangerous destination for asylum seekers and that sending vulnerable people there would violate Australia's obligations under international law.

"Amnesty International is delighted that the High Court has prevented this outrageous, politically-motivated scheme from going ahead," said Amnesty International refugee spokesman Dr. Graham Thom. "Malaysia is clearly not a safe destination for refugees and asylum seekers. The government should never even have contemplated outsourcing Australia's refugee protection obligations to a country which regularly canes, detains and abuses asylum seekers, and which refuses to sign the U.N. Refugee Convention."  

The High Court decision also vindicates Amnesty International's grave concerns that unaccompanied children would be at particular risk if removed to Malaysia.

"As the legal guardian of the unaccompanied minors, the Immigration Minister must act in the children's best interests," said Thom. "Sending them to Malaysia is in blatant breach of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child."

"Now that the High Court has put an end to this sorry saga, it's time for common sense to prevail," added Thom. "Australia should treat all asylum seekers equally, regardless of whether they come by boat or by plane. All asylum seekers should be processed on the mainland in accordance with our obligations under the U.N. Refugee Convention."

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

For more information visit www.amnestyusa.org.

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