21 January 2011


The Director of the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education, Phil Glendenning has expressed grave concerns about the recently signed agreement between the Australian and Afghan governments that will permit the deportation of Afghan asylum seekers from Australia and return them to the dangerous situations from which they have fled.

In an opinion editorial written for Melbourne’s “Age” newspaper, he warned that "many Afghan asylum-seekers have now been made vulnerable by this memorandum of understanding, including members of the persecuted Hazara ethnic minority and women who will be perceived as having departed from acceptable cultural norms"

Research carried out by the Edmund Rice Centre over the past eight years has found that some returnees from Australia and their children were killed upon their return and that many today live in fear. Mr Glendenning gave the examples of Tour Gul, who despite being given assurances of safety by the Australian government, was shot four times in the head by the Taliban and another returnee, Abdul Azmin Rajabi, who saw his nine and six-year-old daughters Yalda and Rowna killed as a consequence of his being targeted four months after being returned from detention in Nauru.

He also quoted the quarterly report on Afghanistan released last month by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon which noted an increase in the number of security incidents of 66 per cent compared to the same period in 2009 and that 2010 was the most violent in Afghanistan since 2001, with most victims of the increased violence being civilians, especially women and children.

In 2009-2010 over 99% of Afghan asylum seeker claims were judged to be genuine, which undermines the Australian government claim that circumstances in Afghanistan had improved to the extent that asylum seekers were no longer in need of protection.

Australia’s policy of returning asylum seekers who claims have been rejected was an issue raised in the submission of Edmund Rice International to the UN Human Rights Council as part of the Universal Periodic Review of Australia due to take place next week.

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