Australian Greens call for inquiry into asylum seeker deaths

14:10, May 10, 2010      

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The Australian Greens on Monday called for an inquiry into monitoring and interception protocols involving boats carrying asylum-seekers, following a second tragedy in half year.

Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young has called for a public inquiry into the incident after it was revealed authorities had been monitoring the boat for almost two weeks.

"We need an investigation into the current practices, protocols of monitoring, surveillance and interception," Senator Hanson- Young told reporters in Canberra.

"Obviously something is not working right when we know a boat was there and two weeks later five people are dead."

The boat went missing last Wednesday before being found the following evening adrift west of the Cocos Islands.

Customs had made contact with the boat on April 30 before it went missing.

The latest tragedy has followed that of an ill-fated voyage of another boat which sunk off the Cocos Islands last November, killing 12 asylum seekers, including two boys aged 13 and 14.

But Senator Hanson-Young stopped short of accusing the government of having blood on its hands.

"They're very strong words and I'm careful not to use them. That's not what I'm suggesting," Senator Hanson-Young said.

"I'm suggesting there is a lack of information available as to what our protocols are."

An investigation has been launched into the deaths of five asylum seekers, believed to have drowned last week when they went for help on a make-shift raft after their boat became disabled.

Authorities have begun taking statements from 59 survivors, rescued on Saturday by a Russian merchant ship.

Source: Xinhua
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