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Calls for inquiry into Christmas Island tragedy

Calls for inquiry into Christmas Island tragedy

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has called for a judicial inquiry into this week's asylum seeker tragedy off Christmas Island. An independent, judicial inquiry into the tragedy, which has…

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has called for a judicial inquiry into this week's asylum seeker tragedy off Christmas Island.

An independent, judicial inquiry into the tragedy, which has so far resulted in 30 deaths, is imperative according to ALA director Greg Barns, because of the number of people involved and the circumstances.

Barns has claimed that the way in which the Navy and other Australian border protection entities, such as Australian Customs boats, exercised their duty to ensure the safety of those at risk of serious harm on the seas, needs to be investigated.

"We are not blaming the Navy or any Australian for this tragedy," Barns explained. "We just want to ensure the correct procedures and policies are in place to ensure those found at the mercy of the sea are assisted in the best possible way and at the earliest possible opportunity."

Barns continued by claiming that "if Australia did not rely on a legal fiction to excise Christmas Island as part of the territory of Australia for migration purposes, then there would be a legal duty of care to ensure that those who come within its territory are not put at risk".

"We now have a moral obligation to ensure those who survived are resettled here immediately," he said.

As reported by ABC News, divers have today (17 December) recovered two more bodies bringing the death toll to 30, with 42 survivors accounted for.

Australian Customs and the Australian Federal Police are today continuing search and rescue operations at Christmas Island, in what have been described as extremely difficult and dangerous conditions.

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