Critics of the Australian government’s plan to send refugees to Cambodia came out in force yesterday to condemn the proposed scheme, as officials in both countries remained silent on reports that a deal will be struck in the coming days.
The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) – a coalition of 21 local rights groups – called for the release of information on the deal and for both governments to reconsider the agreement.
“It is clear that this deal contravenes the Refugee Convention as there is no way the Australian Government can ensure once these refugees reach Cambodia that they will be afforded any of the fundamental human rights protection that are taken for granted in Australia,” it said in a statement.
The statement came in response to a Post article yesterday that quoted a senior government official as saying that Australia’s Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison was due to arrive in Cambodia “in the upcoming days”.
Numerous officials at the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior could not be reached. A spokesman for Morrison declined to comment on the minister’s travel plans, adding that discussions over the deal were “ongoing”.
Morrison last visited the country in April to discuss the refugee deal with Interior Minister Sar Kheng following a meeting between foreign ministers Julie Bishop and Hor Namhong in February, when the proposal was first tabled.
The Australian Greens Party yesterday said it wanted opposition Labor and Senate crossbenchers to block the deal, which requires approval from parliament.
“There is no way that Tony Abbott can ensure the safety of children that his government dumps in Cambodia,” the Greens’ immigration spokeswoman, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, told the Post.
“There are still no details on the conditions that families will be dumped into and no information on the size of the bribe Australia is paying to make this all happen.”