The Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Afghan Refugee Minister, Jamaher Anwary, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Sydney yesterday.
It enables the forced return of Afghans whose bids for asylum fail. The move is alarming security experts and refugee advocates.
Mr Bowen said it would deter Afghans considering travelling to Australia. ”Never, all through the Howard years, never before today, has there been an involuntary return from Australia to Afghanistan,” he said.
”To dissuade people from risking their lives by joining people-smuggling ventures, it is important that Afghans found not to be owed protection by Australia are returned to Afghanistan.”
About 2600 Afghans are in Australia’s detention centres. Of those, 49 must win court appeals to avoid imminent deportation.