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Floating extra-judicial prisons proposal a new low in already poor human rights record.

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Kerry Nettle, Senator for New South Wales

Floating extra-judicial prisons proposal a new low in already poor human rights record

Senator Nettle, 3rd August 2006

Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle today accused the federal government of bringing Australia's human rights record to a new low by planning to hold asylum seekers and suspected illegal fishermen in privately owned floating prisons without access to legal protection.

"Australia should not have private floating prisons with deck mounted machine guns and in our northern waters. The idea is appalling" said Senator Nettle.

"This policy harks back to Australia's penal history, when we should be at the forefront of compassionate and human solutions to border issues.

"The proposal appears to allow customs officials to detain without charge or access to legal support for a month in prison cells on board a private ship. This would amount to a breach of human rights.

"The Customs Minister must explain how these proposals are consistent with our domestic and international human rights obligations.

"It is particularly disturbing that private vessels may be involved in intercepting asylum seekers. A recent Senate Inquiry heard of the great concern that intercepting and turning around asylum seekers at sea to contravened fundamental aspects of the Refugee Convention and international law.

"The privatisation of immigration detention has proved a disaster. The privatisation of customs operations is equally fraught.

"There may be difficulties in policing our northern waters but the solutions must not include compromising human rights.

"If this proposal goes ahead we will see more human tragedies perpetrated on this government's watch."

Contact - Jon Edwards 0428 213 146