Be better informed
IN ANSWER to M. Randall's "refugees illegal" letter (CCA 11/7), well let me correct some points M. Randall states as fact.
In actual fact the news services are using the correct word, refugees, when describing people arriving on unseaworthy boats in Australian territorial waters.
The definition of refugee from the United Nations, of which we are a member and therefore obliged to act accordingly, states: "An asylum seeker or refugee is a person who has fled their own country and applied for protection as a refugee".
According to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, as amended by its 1967 Protocol (the Refugee Convention), a refugee is a person who is outside their own country and is unable or unwilling to return due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group and/or political opinion.
Also, the UN Refugee Convention (to which Australia is a signatory) recognises refugees have a lawful right to enter a country for the purposes of seeking asylum, regardless of how they arrive or whether they hold valid travel or identity documents.
The Convention stipulates that what would usually be considered as illegal actions (e.g. entering a country without a visa) should not be treated as illegal if a person is seeking asylum.
Asylum seekers do not break any Australian laws simply by arriving on boats or without authorisation.
An illegal immigrant is someone whose entry into or presence in a country contravenes immigration laws.
Maybe M. Randall could become better informed on all these issues, including how refugee camps operate overseas, by visiting refugeecouncil.org.au.
Also, referring to queue jumping, you might want to read from the website alhr.asn.au which clarifies that queue jumping is a myth.
What continually gets me irate is people like our former PM John Howard who has perpetuated the myth of refugees being the bogey-man using the bodies overboard lie to gain popularity with the Australian public and using the media to create xenophobia based on nothing.
Just imagine how we would treat all those Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees who came to our shores on boats in the '70s.
Would M. Randall be saying they were all Vietcong or North Vietnamese Communist soldiers?