The Greens have called on the Abbott Government to explain what has happened to 42 Vietnamese asylum seekers who were intercepted close to the West Australian coast last week.
"Reports that Australian authorities handed these families over to the Vietnamese Government are extremely alarming," Greens Immigration Spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said today.
"Turning our backs on these people is the complete opposite to what Australia did under the Fraser Government and further trashes our commitment to helping the many refugees in our region who are searching for a place to call home.
"Handing these people directly over to the Vietnamese Government constitutes refoulement, which is a breach of the Refugee Convention.
"The Abbott Government must come clean with what it has been done with these men, women and children. There are grave fears that those handed back to the Vietnamese authorities will be punished, jailed and further abused as a result of trying to escape.
"There has been an increase in people escaping religious persecution in Vietnam, particularly from Christian minorities. What has the Australian Government done to make sure these families sent back to Vietnam won't face further persecution?
"Australia has a proud history of providing safety to refugees from Vietnam, but while Malcolm Fraser offered a helping hand, Tony Abbott has turned them away, handing them straight back to their persecutors.
"It is a very worrying sign that the Labor Party, only days after backing the Coalition’s 'turn-back' policy, has not been able to give clear condemnation of the treatment of these asylum seekers from Vietnam.
“The Greens have called on Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to outline what assurances he has received from the Vietnamese Government that they will not harm or punish these men, women or children.”
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