Australia Considers Plan to Deport Asylum Seekers

Posted August 13th, 2012 at 7:35 am (UTC-5)
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Australia is considering a plan to reopen detention centers in the Pacific island nations of Papua New Guinea and Nauru, in order to deter asylum seekers from attempting a dangerous sea journey to reach the country.

A panel of experts told lawmakers Monday that Australia should also increase its annual refugee quota to 20,000 to encourage more people to seek asylum through official channels.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the strategy could help save lives.

“When our nation looks at what is happening at sea as people attempt dangerous journeys to Australia, too many lives have been lost, and I'm not going to play politics or look at political scoreboards when too many lives have been lost.”

Officials say more than 100 boats have brought more than 7,000 asylum seekers to Australia this year, while nearly 1,000 have died trying to make the trip since 2001.

Rights group Amnesty International criticized the plan to deport asylum seekers, saying it is a major setback for Australian refugee policy.