THE HON'BLE SUPREME COURT'S DIRECTIONS REGARDING ATTACKS ON INDIAN STUDENTS IN AUSTRALIA
A public interest litigation vide Writ Petition (Civil) No. 262 of 2009, was filed on 17 June, 2009 in the Supreme Court of India in relation to attacks on Indian students in Australia.
The Hon'ble Supreme Court in its Order dated 29 June, 2009 directed that parents and students should be made aware of the steps which have been taken in this regard and for the contents of the Affidavit filed by the Ministry of External Affairs in the said matter along with Revised Guidelines for the students, both to be put on the websites of the High Commission of India, Canberra; the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.
The Affidavit is appended.
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 262 OF 2009
IN THE MATTER OF:
RANVEER YADAV ........ PETITIONERS
UNION OF INDIA & ANR. ........ RESPONDENTS
AFFIDAVIT IN PURSUANCE OF THE ORDER DATED 29 JUNE 2009
I, Arun Kumar Goel, working as Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, do hereby solemnly affirm and state as under:
- This Hon'ble Court vide order dated 29 June 2009 had taken note of the steps taken by the Union of India to protect and safeguard the interests of Indian students in Australia.
- At the time of hearing on the last occasion, the Learned Attorney General had submitted that the contents of the affidavit filed earlier would be placed on the website of the Ministry of External Affairs, the Indian High Commission Canberra and the Ministry of Overseas Indians. Accordingly, the guidelines for students have already been placed on the website on 12 June 2009.
- The present affidavit is being filed, to give details of all the further steps taken by the Government of India to protect the interests of Indian students studying in Australia.
- The Australian Government has taken concrete steps and announced a series of measures as listed below aimed at ensuring the safety and security of Indian students in Australia.
In Melbourne, where most of the incidents have occurred, the following measures have been put into effect:
- Police patrolling has been increased around train stations, especially late at night.
- The number of transit police, including in plain clothes on late night trains that are taken by students, has been increased.
- The State Government's Robbery Taskforce has been doubled; several offenders have been charged.
- The Victoria Police has established a Community Reference Group for Western Melbourne involving the police and members of the Indian community to see how to decrease incidents of victimization of Indian students and facilitate communication on safety issues.
- The Victorian police has conducted a series of operations in Melbourne's west involving 75 undercover and uniformed police covering the streets of Sunshine and St. Albans, which resulted in 7 arrests.
- On 10 June, the Victoria Police announced a major crackdown on crime at train stations across Melbourne which included:
- a significant increase in police patrols at trouble spots in four areas (Sunshine, St. Albans, Thomastown, and Clayton and Dandenong)
- high visibility operations, uniformed police, transit members, the Dog Squad, the Mounted Branch and the Air Wing are patrolling in and around train stations
- follow-up covert police operations.
- The Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria have set up a hotline for Indian students - 1800-FIAV-00 (1800-3428-00)
(iii) FREE LEGAL ADVICE
- In Melbourne, free legal advice and referral for international students is available from the International Student Legal Advice Clinic (ISLAC) which is currently operating on Wednesdays (6.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.) at 30 Hall Street, New Port (behind Newport Train Station; 10 minutes from Footscray Train Station) Contact No.93912244.
- STREET LIGHTING AND CCTV CAMERAS
- The High Commission and the Consulates General in Sydney and Melbourne have drawn the State Government's attention to the need for providing more street lighting and CCTV cameras in areas that are prone to such attacks.
- STERN RESPONSE BY THE GOVERNMENT TO ATTACKS
- The Premier of the State of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the Capital, has condemned racially motivated crimes in the strongest possible terms and his Government's intention to do everything in its power to track down the perpetrators of these cowardly acts and bring them to justice.
- The Australian Government has set up the Prime Minister's Taskforce on Crimes Against International Students to coordinate with the federal Departments and State Governments involved on measures to ensure the safety of international students in Australia.
- The Victorian Government has recognized that there is more that can be done and is looking at changes to make it easier to access information or legislative changes to ensure that penalties match the severity of a crime.
- The Victorian Government has announced that action will be taken to allow judges to take into account racial hatred and prejudice while sentencing those convicted of assault and for amending the hate crimes legislation to make it tougher; it is also being considered whether the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act needs to be made stronger.
- In June, the Ethnic Communities Council (ECC) of Western Australia have set up a website (http://overseasstudentsmatter.multiculturalwa.org.au/) for foreign students to confidentially report racist attacks.
- CONFIDENCE BUILDING MEASURES BY THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT
- On June 5, following a meeting with the High Commissioner and the Consuls General, Universities Australia (UA), the body representing Australia's 39 universities released a 10-point Action Plan on the issues facing international students.
- On 2 July 2009 at Darwin, at a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) chaired by PM Kevin Rudd and attended by Premiers and Chief Ministers of all 6 states and 2 territories in Australia, the following strategies were adopted in respect of international students:
- High profile, visible police initiatives, where required, to respond to attacks on international students, targeting metropolitan transit hubs and other priority areas to ensure the general safety of students and the traveling public that frequent the areas; this commitment to be maintained for as long as it is required.
- Improve the international student experience through improved pre-and post-arrival information and engagement with the ethnic and broader Australian community;
- Enhance general educational offerings that develop cultural understanding, tolerance and language skills;
- Achieve a clearer articulation between international education and migration policies; and
- Consider the quality of education providers.
5. The Government of India has been in constant dialogue with the highest levels of Australian Federal and State Governments and a series of measures have been agreed to during the recent visit of Secretary, Department of Education, Government of Australia, in the last week of June and during the visit of Australian Education providers (in the first fortnight of July). It is hoped that with these steps that the problems faced by Indian students in Australia would soon be resolved.
Verified at New Delhi on the 13 day of july 2009 that the contents of the above paras are true and correct and nothing material has been concealed therefrom.