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Iranian exiles and asylum seekers in Iraq

Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (12:23): I move:
That the Senate-
(a) notes that:
(i) more than 3 000 Iranian exiles and asylum seekers reside at Camp Ashraf in Iraq, and
(ii) these people are at risk of expulsion or refoulement, if the Iraqi Government persists in its plan to close the camp by the end of 2011; and

(b) calls on the Federal Government to lobby:
(i) the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to declare the camp a refugee camp,
(ii) the United Nations and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to station a monitoring team in the camp to ensure residents‘ protection, and
(iii) the Iraqi Government to suspend all plans to close the camp until the UNHCR has had an opportunity to process and transfer all applicants for asylum.

Senator LUDWIG (Queensland-Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General on Queensland Floods Recovery) (12:23): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator LUDWIG: The government does not support this motion. If I could reiterate, the Australian government does not believe it is appropriate to deal with complex foreign policy matters via simple Senate resolutions. The Australian government is concerned about the situation of the residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq. More than 3,000 members of the Iranian opposition group the People's Mujahedin of Iran reside there. The Iraq government plans to close the camp by the end of 2011. UNHCR has undertaken to conduct voluntary individual refugee assessments of camp residents and the government has asked the government of Iraq to extend its full cooperation to the UNHCR to delay closure of the camp to allow completion of refugee processing and to ensure the human rights of residents are respected.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (12:24): I seek leave to make a very short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: While I acknowledge the minister's comments, I would like to put squarely on the record that once these poor people are moved out of this refugee camp, be sure that they will start arriving on our shores, be sure that they will start engaging people smugglers to access protection and safety. In the foresight of trying to help people who are being displaced not having to engage in these services at the first point of call, I am surprised that the government are not prepared to put on the record their support for this motion.

Question put:
That the motion (Senator Hanson-Young's) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. [12:26]
(The President-Senator Hogg)
Ayes ...................... 10
Noes ...................... 42
Majority ................ 32

Question negatived.

 

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