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Govt failing to meet obligations to protect embassies: Hill



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MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR ROBERT HILL LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Tuesday, April 7 30/92

GOVT FAILING TO MP.CT OBLIGATIONS TO PROTECT EMBASSIES I HIM.

The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Robert Hill, today said the attack on the Iranian Embassy in Canberra again suggested the Australian Government was failing to meet its international obligations to protect foreign embassies.

"Yesterday's incident · at the Iranian Embassy was an

intolerable, violent act which cannot be justified under any circumstances," Senator Hill said.

"But Australia has also a 'special duty' under the Vienna Convention to protect foreign missions in Australia and their staff.

"Paragraph 2 of Article 22 of the Convention statesi

THE RECEIVING STATE is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.

"In January, the Government failed to adequately protect the Indonesian Embassy.

"Indonesian Embassy staff were harassed and an Embassy car had its windscreen smashed.

"Now there has been an even more serious attack, this time on the Iranian Embassy and its staff.

"The incident again suggests the Australian Government is failing to meet its obligations under the Vienna Convention.

"Australian Government security at foreign missions should be as unobtrusive as possible, but it must still be adequate.

"The incidents at the Indonesian Embassy early this year should have been a warning to the Government to take greater care in meeting its security obligations. i · ’ 4

"But it seems the Government has taken security for granted.

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"It is alleged that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) failed to take proper action once it was warned of the potential for an attack on the Iranian Embassy.

"However, the actions of the Department of Foreign Affaire and Trade (DFAT) should also be scrutinised.

"Attacks on Iranian Embassies occurred around the world in the 24 hours before yesterday's attack in Canberra.

"Australia's missions abroad should have reported to DFAT in Canberra the exact nature of these attacks and given a warning to DFAT of the possibility of a similar attack on the Iranian Embassy in Canberra.

"The Federal Opposition will pursue the question as to whether the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Senator Evans, or his representative was adequately informed of these matters.

"If Australia's overseas missions did give early warnings to Canberra, the Minister must explain why the Government did not take precautionary measures to protect the Iranian Embassy in Canberra."

(ends)

Enquiriess Senator Hill or Mark Batistich on (08) 237 7920