25 April 2012
In a March 2012 visit to Afghanistan, the Edmund Rice Centre research team confirmed the death of Mohammad Hossain, the death of Shaid Ahmadi and the disappearance and presumed death of Ghulam Payador.
The team also met and interviewed 31 returned asylum seekers from Australia. These documented interviews confirmed that 29 of these 31 are living in extreme danger
The visiting team also met with the leaders of Aschiana, one of Afghanistan’s largest NGOs with responsibility for displaced children in the 45 camps that now ring Kabul, who reported that they had found a 17-year old boy who was sent back from Australia last year. He was found by Aschiana, staff, living on the street, homeless and ill
Another deportee survived a rocket being fired through his house. His wife and his father were killed instantly. He lives now in hiding in Kabul - along with his six children – all under the age of nine. The deportees are being actively targeted for having left their country, because they are seen as being ‘favourable to the West’. Many are falsely held to have converted to Christianity, and others are targeted out of a fear that they may have been sent back to fight alongside the international forces
Clearly it would seem that decisions taken by the Australian authorities regarding these asylum seekers have failed to take into account the accuracy and independence of the advice and information received about the level of security for civilians in Afghanistan before their return.
In returning rejected asylum seekers to danger, the Australian Government is in breach of its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention. In view of the case of the 17 year-old youth described above, and of the risks to the safety of the children and families of rejected asylum seekers, it would seem that Australia is also in breach of ts obligations under the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
Based on the research carried out by the Edmund Rice Centre, Edmund Rice International has made a submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child which will review Australia’s compliance with its obligations under the Convention of the Rights of the Child when it meets in Geneva next month.