Australia passes controversial immigration law amendment

Asylum boat     Australian senate adopted a controversial amendment to the ‘Migration Act’, allowing people who arrive by boat to be processed at offshore facilities on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, aimed at discouraging asylum-seekers showing up on Australia’s shore illegally through sea route.

Mainland Australia will now be out of the migration zone and all asylum-seekers who arrive anywhere in Australia will be eligible to be sent offshore, according to Australian Associated Press report.

The amendment was introduced by the former John Howard-led government in 2006, and has been criticised by the Greens party, which called it “a stain on national character”. Greens leader Christine Milne said former Prime Minister Howard failed  the attempt to pass the amendment in 2006, that contravened the United Nation’s refugee convention by discriminating against asylum seekers based on their mode of arrival.

Under the ‘Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill 2012′, mainland Australia will join Ashmore Island, Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, and Cocos Islands to be excluded from the migration zone.

The amended bill will now go to the lower house for a final approval.

According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, a total of 6036 passengers on 96 boats have arrived on Australia’s shore this year. A majority of them are from Sri Lanka.

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