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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

FRETILIN: Timor-Leste Not Ready to Have Asylum Seeker Centre on its Shores


Media Release

Dili, 12 October 2010

FRETILIN: Timor-Leste Not Ready to Have Asylum Seeker Centre on its Shores

In a meeting held in Dili on 12 October 2010, at FRETILIN headquarters, between a FRETILIN delegation headed by party Secretary General and former Prime Minister of the RDTL Dr. Mari Alkatiri and the Australian delegation headed by His Excellency The Honorable Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, the issue of a proposal by the Australian government to establish an asylum seeker processing centre in Timor-Leste was discussed.

Dr. Alkatiri presented the following points to the Australian delegation as to why Timor-Leste does not have the conditions to accept the Australian government’s proposal of an asylum seeker processing centre:

1) The Asylum Seeker Processing Centre is an issue of a regional and international character and should not be the focus of bilateral discussions.

2) Citizens from around the world flock to the region in which Australia and Timor-Leste exist for social, economic and political reasons.  They search for an “oasis”, and that is Australia.  It makes no sense to bilaterally frustrate the dreams of these world citizens to seek a better life for them and their kin.  The Timorese state is conscious of its obligations under international law, but, institutionally, Timor-Leste does not have the conditions to accommodate them.

3) Timor-Leste still has numerous very serious issues to resolve, including the following three; the question of land and property rights; the issue of security and the administration of justice; chronic poverty for much of its people, in all forms.  An asylum seeker processing centre set up amongst such inadequate conditions will generate conflicts with unforeseen consequences.
4)  The unanimous rejection by the National Parliament of the Australian government’s proposal to establish such a centre must be respected by the Timor-Leste government.

Dr. Alkatiri reiterated in the meantime that Timor-Leste remains committed to complying with its regional and international obligations.

For further information please contact Filomeno Aleixo on +670 734 0383

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