The Greens today welcomed the Government's progress with bilateral negotiations with Indonesia to improve search and rescue operations in our region, but called on the Government to clarify protocols around how and when Australia will take responsibility for rescued asylum seekers.
"It is a positive step that the Government is engaging in discussions with Indonesia to improve search and rescue efforts in our region but the glaring omission in the six-point plan is the missing clarification of Australia's obligations to rescued asylum seekers," said Greens' immigration and citizenship spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
"We need to see clear protocols in place to direct where asylum seekers who have been rescued by Australia will go after their emergency health and safety concerns have been attended to.
"I am also interested in hearing whether there has been any recent change in protocol that allowed us to send traumatised and desperate people back to Indonesian immigration detention.
"Australia has obligations under the Refugee Convention that need to be taken into account as part of these bilateral processes. In light of our Refugee Convention obligations we need clarity on the humanitarian aspects of these rescue operations such as how and where people will be cared for while their asylum applications are assessed.
"The Greens have been calling on the Government to enter into these negotiations and to take the steps necessary to codify safety of life at sea so it is encouraging to see some movement on this critical issue.
Media contact: Ali Neyle 0427 604 760