In the lead-up to Labor's national conference, beginning in Sydney on April 27, WA-based advocacy group Project SafeCom has urged supporters of refugees' rights to pressure the ALP leadership to ensure that a government led by Kevin Rudd won't commit the same human rights abuses witnessed during PM John Howard's reign (some of which, such as the Tampa affair, were carried out with ALP complicity).
Labor intends to maintain the Christmas Island detention centre established by the Howard government and maintain Australia's migration "exclusion zone". Australia is a signatory of the UN's convention on the rights of refugees, however asylum seekers who land on one of the 4600 islands within the zone do not have access to the protections granted by the convention or by Australian law.
Project SafeCom's Jack Smit describes the Christmas Island detention centre as a "maximum-security Guantanamo-style prison ... with doors and compounds remotely lockable — wait for it — from Canberra!" Labor also backs mandatory detention of asylum seekers, a gross abuse of human rights and a breach of Australia's international obligations.
Project SafeCom has established a page on its website, <http://www.safecom.org.au>, allowing people to easily send a letter to Rudd and opposition immigration spokesperson Tony Burke expressing their views on rights for asylum seekers.