Jesuit Refugee Service accuses Australia of exploiting terrorist threat
The Rome-based international office of the Jesuit Refugee Service has said Australia is taking advantage of the need for extra security against terrorism in order to prevent asylum seekers from entering the country.
JRS International Director Fr Lluis Magrina issued a statement on Monday calling for countries to open their borders to refugees from Afghanistan. He said that a number of western countries are using asylum seekers as a "scapegoat for the terrorist attacks". He specified new powers for the detention of immigrants in the US, and new laws in Australia "that severely undermine refugee protection".
He quoted the criticism of JRS Asia Pacific Director Fr Andre Sugijopranoto SJ: "Australia crudely used the recent acts of terrorism to defend the obvious limitations of its latest legislation to protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers."
Fr Magrina said that citing an emergency situation in order to limit the fundamental rights of a vulnerable group, undermines civil rights to the extent that it will "erode the democratic foundation of our own societies".
"The US and other States have, of course, a duty to protect their citizens," he said. "However this should not lead to measures which infringe the rights of immigrants, including asylum seekers."