Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are not safe, better remind the Australian government

This is truly shameful and obvious political pandering. If the Australian government seriously believes that both Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are relatively safe for its citizens, perhaps some ministers should visit the war-torn nations and enjoy the local hospitality for a while. Without a security detail:

Australia’s decision to stop processing all new immigration claims from Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers is an illegal “freeze on fairness”, a prominent immigration lawyer says.

The federal government today announced it was suspending the processing of all new asylum claims by people from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka because of “evolving circumstances” in both countries.

But Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre co-ordinator David Manne said there was “absolutely no evidence” that Afghanistan and Sri Lanka had become overwhelmingly safe and secure places.

“The real concern is that a deliberate delay or deliberate freeze on processing can deny people the protection as refugees which they should be granted now,” Mr Manne said.

“To put a freeze on cases on the off chance the situation in the person’s country might improve at some point down the track flies in the face of our international obligations to properly assess refugee claims at the time they’re made.”

The announcement came as the government revealed the interception of the 38th boat, carrying 70 asylum seekers, to arrive in Australian waters this year.

It brought the number of “irregular immigrants” to Australia to 1878, which could make 2010 the biggest year yet for unauthorised arrivals by boat.

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