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Kosovar refugees must not be returned to violence.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett Senator for Queensland Australian Democrats spokesperson for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

Press Release Dated: 7 Jun 2000

Press Release Number: 00/332 Portfolio: Immigration and Multicultural Affairs 

Kosovar Refugees must not be returned to violence In light of the violence continuing to occur in their homeland, the Australian Democrats have renewed calls for Kosovar refugees to be allowed to remain in Australia and apply for permanent refugee status.

“Australia is under an obligation not to return people to a dangerous situation,” said Democrat immigration spokesperson, Senator Andrew Bartlett.

“We are particularly concerned about those refugees with very young babies that have been born in Australia,” he said.

“It is no good saying the Kosovar refugees should go home, when some have no home to go to.

“The Kosovars in detention and on medical visas should be permitted to stay in Australia, at least until it is safe for them to return home. There are 329 Kosovar refugees left in Australia including 154 on medical extension and 45 who are not eligible for visas in Australia (23 of these are in detention and 22 at large),” said Senator Bartlett.

The Democrats and others have repeatedly called over the past twelve months for the refugees to have the same rights as any other person on Australian soil; that is, to apply to stay in Australia through the normal processes.

“Australia is one of the few nations who assisted the Kosovars at the time of the war last year, that refused to give them any opportunity to apply for other visas and give them some control over their own future.

“Countries such as the USA, Canada and New Zealand all allowed Kosovars to apply for other visas (such as protection or

refugee visas) while in the country.

“Mr Ruddock has total power over the future of these people. He has structured the law so there is no avenue of appeal, no need to follow natural justice and not even any public criteria which the Minister must follow in deciding whether or not to listen to people's pleas.

“The Government is forcing the Kosovar refugees to return and apply for refugee status through Athens, despite the fact that Australia is obliged to offer protection to any people on our soil who meet the definition of a Refugee under the Refugee Convention,” said Senator Bartlett.

“Why not allow them to apply from here?”


Top | Email Authorised by: Jim Downey, 10 Brisbane Avenue, Barton ACT 2604. Copyright © 2000 Australian Democrats Last modified: Thu, 18 May 2000 13:51:26 Today: Thu, 08 Jun 2000 10:09:27