Amnesty International has labelled the Federal Government’s handling of asylum seekers as a ‘moral and legal failure’.

The comments came today at a conference in Brisbane, celebrating 50 years of the human rights organisation.

Danika Ferguson reports


Amnesty International’s Secretary General is in Australia for a special visit to campaign for human rights.

He’s concerned the Federal Government is not treating the asylum seeker issue with the respect it deserves.

Silal Shetty, Amnesty International, Secretary General: “This is currently being used as an opportunistic political football putting the lives of some of the most vulnerable people on this planet including children at risk.”

The Secretary General of Amnesty International has accused the Federal Government of failing to meet international human rights obligations. He urged them to consider what legacy they will leave for future generations.

The Gillard government’s Malaysia swap deal was deemed unlawful by the High Court of Australia two months ago.

Steven Crawshaw, International Advocacy Director AI: “It’s got this idea of offshore processing, which to be honest is completely in breach of all international law. It’s trying to wash their hands of a problem.”

Amnesty says seeking asylum is an international right and not a matter for public opinion.

The conference was told the issue needs to be put into perspective in a wealthy nation like Australia.

Professor George Williams, University of NSW: “We also ought to understand that those people are coming to Australia in relatively small numbers and that we as a rich nation are capable of caring for them in a compassionate way.”

Amnesty says there is an internationally acknowledged process for dealing with asylum seekers and Australia should abide by that.

Danika Ferguson, QUT News.