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AI report shows why Australia mustn't revisit Malaysia swap

Amnesty International's latest annual report card explains in clear terms the risks involved were the Gillard government to succeed in its quest to resurrect the inhumane Malaysian people swap, the Australian Greens said today.

"The report states the deal to expel 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in exchange for 4,000 refugees who were awaiting resettlement would contravene our international obligations to people seeking our protection," Greens' human rights spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said.

"It cites the successful legal challenge to the deal which resulted in the High Court reminding the Gillard government it must abide by the obligations of the Migration Act. The act forbids Australia from expelling people to places where their rights could not be guaranteed.

"Malaysia in August 2011 broke international law by forcibly returning Uighurs to China, routinely detains undocumented migrants indefinitely and in some cases canes them.

"The Gillard government ought to stop trying to revive the Malaysian deal as the Greens will never support it.

"Australia is also continuing to breach the Refugee Convention by warehousing asylum seekers indefinitely in remote and inhospitable parts of the continent. This is causing easily preventable mental and physical damage to people who've fled persecution, torture and trauma.

"The Amnesty report also notes the shameful continued violation of the rights of First Australians. For example, indigenous residents in remote parts of the Northern Territory have limited access to basic services like water.

"Instead of being a world leader in upholding people's rights, Australia has in the past year recoiled and rejected many United Nations recommendations that would have improved human rights.

"While the federal government agreed to ratify an Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and consider ratifying a convention for indigenous people, several important rights advancements continue to be ignored.

"On a positive note, in February 2012 all Australian federal, state and territory governments endorsed a national plan to reduce violence against women and children.

"The Greens will continue monitoring how governments are adhering to this plan, as well as continuing our efforts to ensure the government stops trampling on the rights of Australia's indigenous people, asylum seekers and other people at risk of harm."

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