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Greens criticise Malaysia asylum swap deal
Australian Associated Press - July 25, 2011
South Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said only scant details had been revealed about the plan and there was no reference to human rights protections for people sent to Malaysia.
"This deal is still very unclear as to what type of protection will be offered to these people that we expel to Malaysia," she told reporters.
"The details should have been in the agreement. Verbal assurances mean nothing. It's still very unclear as to how the government believes these people's human rights will be protected.
"The whole idea of the Australia-Malaysia agreement is trading in the lives of very vulnerable people and it is about the Australian government shirking its international responsibilities."
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and the Malaysian Home Affairs minister Dato' Seri Hishammuddin bin Tun Hussein, signed off the asylum seeker arrangement at a formal ceremony in Kuala Lumpur today.
Under the plan Australia will send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in exchange for 4000 genuine refugees, whose cases have been verified by the United Nations refugee agency.
The move increases Australia's overall annual humanitarian intake to 14,750 places.
But Senator Hanson-Young said that number should be lifted to 20,000, removing the need to send any asylum seekers to other countries. "The need for Australia to be resettling people is absolutely paramount," she said.
"We should be taking up to 20,000 people a year... that would reduce the number of people taking that treacherous journey in those leaky boats. Why are waiting for 800 people to risk their lives simply to do what we should be doing anyway?"