Page 2336 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 22 June 2011

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Sri Lanka—Tamils

Asylum seekers—Malaysian solution

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (6.38): I will speak briefly on a couple of matters. Firstly, a matter I have spoken about on a number of occasions in the chamber during the adjournment debate is the situation in Sri Lanka, particularly in relation to the Tamil population. I want to provide an update. This is something which has been investigated by a United Nations panel of experts. During the 17th session of the Human Rights Council taking place in Geneva, footage of an execution video obtained by Channel 4 News in the UK was analysed by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Killings, Christof Heyns, who stated that this evidence amounted to a definitive war crime.

The UN panel’s report published in April 2011 states that tens of thousands of innocent civilians lost their lives during the final months of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009. The panel’s recommendation to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, was to immediately proceed to establish an independent international accountability mechanism in Sri Lanka. An accountability for crimes against humanity is a duty under international law and, as has been pointed out by a number of organisations, it is unlikely that a proper process of accountability will be forthcoming from within Sri Lanka, as the process undertaken by the Sri Lankan government had been dismissed as flawed by the UN report. Obviously this is an ongoing issue and it is something that I think all members of parliament should be keeping a watch on, particularly for the Tamil community here in the ACT.

I would also like to speak briefly in favour of a motion that was brought before the House of Representatives by Greens MP Adam Bandt regarding the Malaysian asylum seeker proposal that has been put forward by the Australian government. This motion was also passed in the Senate. So it is a motion that has been passed in both houses of parliament and supported, I will note, by the Liberal Party federally. The motion that was moved by Adam Bandt on 30 May 2011 was:

That this House:

(1) condemns the Gillard Government’s deal with Malaysia that would see 800 asylum seekers intercepted in Australian waters and sent to Malaysia, and

(2) calls on the Government to immediately abandon this proposal.

This is something, I believe, that all parliamentarians should be supporting. We know that a significant issue with Malaysia is that it is not a signatory to the human rights convention, which obviously impacts on the treatment that asylum seekers would receive in that country. I would call on all Labor members also to be lobbying the government to abandon this solution, to adopt a solution which is based on human rights principles and is about protecting the human rights of asylum seekers.

On that matter, I would just note that there was a program on SBS last night and is on tonight and tomorrow night about the plight of refugees and asylum seekers. I would

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