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Democrats to force debate on anti-genocide bill.

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Senator Brian Greig Senator for Western Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Justice

Press Release Dated: 3 Apr 2001 Press Release Number: 01/201 Portfolio: Justice Related: Human Rights (Domestic)

Democrats to force debate on Anti-genocide Bill While it is important for Australia to continue to play an active role in accepting refugees from war-torn countries around the world, it is vital that we do so safe in the knowledge that we have a domestic legal framework capable of dealing with any allegations of violations against international humanitarian laws should they subsequently arise, says the Australian Democrats.

Democrats’ Law and Justice spokesperson, Senator Brian Greig says despite Australia signing and ratifying the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1949, subsequent governments have failed to enshrine this Convention into domestic law.

“As Genocide is not unlawful in Australia, our nation has become a safe haven for war criminals and those suspected against crimes against humanity,” Senator Greig said.

“In the period from 1940 to 1960, Australia was the destination of choice for many Nazi war criminals who escaped prosecution in places such as Latvia and Germany. An estimated seventy alleged war criminals are still living freely in Australia.

“As evidenced by the Konrad Kalejs case, the only avenue Australia has available to deal with such alleged war criminals, is extradition, but only when Australia has an extradition treaty with the country concerned, and only when such action is requested by that country.”

Senator Greig is presenting the Senate with the opportunity to finally carry out the unfinished business started by the Australian Parliament in 1949.

During the Parliamentary debate on 30 June 1949, (then) Leader of the Opposition, Robert Menzies said ‘persecution of the kind against which the convention is directed must never be tolerated’.

Dr Evatt, (then) Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs added that ‘Australia will, I believe, ratify the convention, and afterwards this Parliament will pass the necessary legislation to show other countries that we join in the universal condemnation of this horror’.

“Parliament must not procrastinate on this matter while crimes against humanity continue to surface in many parts of the world,” Senator Greig said.


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