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Church leaders sign plea to prevent asylum seeker deportation

A declaration calling on the Federal Government to stop deporting asylum seekers to their country of origin was launched outside Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral yesterday by a coalition of religious and human rights leaders.

The coalition, including representatives from Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths, said the declaration was in response to mounting evidence of the deaths, disappearances and serious human rights violations of people who have been deported from Australia.

The Catholic Church was represented by Monsignor Tony Doherty, Dean of St Mary's Cathedral.

"Our evidence suggests that there can be four quite alarming outcomes for some asylum seekers forcibly or 'voluntarily' removed from Australia," the group said in a statement before a meeting in Sydney. "These include death, disappearance, jail and torture. Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy, in other countries, asylum from persecution."

The Australian Government should not send asylum seekers home if their safety was in danger, the group said.

"No refugee or person granted refugee protection should be returned to a country where life or freedom would be threatened," the statement said.

Daily Telegraph (payment required)

Religious leaders against asylum seeker deportation (ABC Radio The World Today)

21 Nov 2002