Monday, 27 October 2008

Afghans sent home to die

Mr Glendenning says he has documented the deaths of nine of the rejected Afghans at the hands of the Taliban, but he believes the figure is actually 20.

Allegations up to 20 Afghan asylum seekers rejected by Australia under the Howard government's so-called Pacific solution were killed after returning to Afghanistan, and others remain in hiding from the Taliban.

Phil Glendenning, the director of social justice agency the Edmund Rice Centre, has spent the past six years tracing many of these rejected asylum seekers.

About 400 Afghans detained on Nauru were returned to Afghanistan after having their asylum claims rejected. They were told by Immigration officials it was safe to go home, and that if they refused, they would remain in detention forever, according to accounts given to Mr Glendenning.

Another 400 who refused to go voluntarily were eventually found to be refugees and were resettled in Australia or other countries including New Zealand.

Mr Glendenning says he has documented the deaths of nine of the rejected Afghans at the hands of the Taliban, but he believes the figure is actually 20.

Of the other Afghans who returned home, many are hiding in Pakistan, or are forced to move between Pakistan and Afghanistan to evade the Taliban. They include a man whose two daughters were killed in a Taliban attack on his family's home near Kabul, after his asylum claim was rejected by Australia in 2002.

Much of the information Mr Glendenning used to locate the rejected asylum seekers was provided to him by sympathetic Immigration officials, concerned at what had occurred under the Howard government.

He believes the Afghans who left Nauru were "lied to" by Australian officials, and he wants the Government to reopen their cases.

Philip Ruddock was immigration minister until October 2003. Asked for his comment on the rejected Afghans, he said, "I would never say mistakes are impossible."

"It is the case that Afghanistan is a dangerous place but the [United Nations] Refugee Convention does not say you cannot be returned to a dangerous place," Mr Ruddock said. "The fact that somebody might tragically die [in Afghanistan] may well be as tragic as a road accident in Sydney."


Immigration officials should face action
A former human rights commissioner says Immigration Department officials who breached human rights under the Howard government need to face disciplinary action.

Australia pays family of Afghan governor
Australia has made an honour payment to the family of Afghan tribal district governor Rozi Khan who was shot dead in a confused firefight involving Australian special forces troops.

Australian boat arrivals from Middle East
The Immigration Minister Chris Evans has confirmed that a group of people caught illegally in Australian waters last week are from the Middle East.

Govt attacked on 'asylum' boat issue

Human rights groups have attacked the federal government over its treatment of a group of suspected asylum seekers intercepted en route to Australia.

AFGHANISTAN: End the slaughter
On 22 August, 95 civilians were killed by NATO forces, 60 among them were children. Yesterday 1 September another 70 civilians suffered the same fate.

Austraila detained Afghans in 'dog pens'
Australian special forces troops detained suspected Taliban militants [or indigenous Afganistanis] in "dog pens" in actions which have prompted a protest from the Afghan ambassador.

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