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Boat asylum seeker ban 'cruel': advocate

AAP logoAAP 30/10/2016

Laws that would permanently ban asylum seekers entering Australia, if they arrived by boat, are "deliberately cruel to innocent people", human rights advocates say.

Human Rights Law Centre's director of legal advocacy, Daniel Webb, says the proposal would terrify people already living in the community and rip families apart.

"Those who are already here rebuilding their lives in our communities must be allowed to stay," he told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

"Those who've spent three years on a painful road to nowhere on Nauru and Manus should be brought back to safety in Australia."

People who need protection shouldn't be punished for seeking help, Mr Webb said.

"We need to open up safe pathways to protection, rather than just closing unsafe ways," he said.

The government will ask parliament to ban everyone who was sent to Nauru or Papua New Guinea's Manus Island for offshore immigration processing after July 19, 2013 - the date Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd declared: "As of today, asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia."

The ban would apply whether or not they were found to be refugees and extends to all types of visas, including tourist and business categories.

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