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Papuans' privacy must be respected.



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Senator Amanda Vanstone

MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS

Media Centre

Papuans' Privacy Must be Respected Senator Vanstone, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs today warned Greens Senator Kerry Nettle to respect the rights of West Papuan detainees currently being processed by immigration officials on Christmas Island.

The Minister said reports that Senator Nettle has travelled to Christmas Island with an ABC journalist and sought to arrange contact with the media were a cause for real concern.

‘The Australian Government has made very clear that all of the claimants will have their claims heard in accordance with Australia ’s international treaty obligations, ’ Senator Vanstone said today.

‘Senator Nettle wrote to me last week seeking my assistance in arranging facilitation for her visit and I responded promptly that I would do so.

‘I also made clear to Senator Nettle that she would need to respect the privacy of all of the individuals with whom she came into contact, either at the Phosphate Hill facility, or those housed in family duplexes within the community. ‘

'I do not regard turning up on someone ’s doorstep with a journalist as respecting one ’s right to privacy.

‘All of the individuals should have been given the opportunity to consider whether this is what they wanted and more importantly, to have had the opportunity to take advice from their legal representatives before making such a decision.

‘The Government is committed to ensuring that all of the claimants are afforded a proper process which fully protects their legal rights.

‘My department ’s work processing these claims is progressing very well, however it seems that Senator Nettle is more concerned with gaining media exposure for herself than any consideration of the rights of the individuals.

‘I understand that Senator Nettle has now been advised of the legal implications of this media stunt by independent lawyers on Christmas Island.

‘Apart from the legal issues, this is a matter of common courtesy,

something Senator Nettle clearly does not understand, ’ the Minister added.

29 January 2006