Catholic groups sign letter to PM on asylum seekers

Objection to language

Australia's most prominent Catholic organisations, including the Archdioceses of Sydney and Melbourne, Catholic migrant and social justice groups, are among a large group of signatories to an open letter to the Prime Minister about asylum seekers.

The letter, published in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, is about the use of the term "illegal maritime arrivals".

The letter says: "We write to voice our objection to the Australian Government's recent decision to refer to asylum seekers who enter Australia by boat as 'illegal maritime arrivals'.

"You and members of your Cabinet are well aware that seeking asylum is not illegal under Australian or international law. Article 31 of the Refugee Convention makes it clear that contracting states, including Australia, must not impose penalties on people who arrive without authorisation to seek refugee protection.

"This Article recognises that very few of the world's refugees get the opportunity to cross borders with prior permission and that rules which regulate normal migration flows must be suspended where those crossing the border believe they have a well-founded fear of persecution," it continues.

FULL STORY The letter to Tony Abbott on asylum seekers

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